Paola Caronni by Leonardo Yip

PAOLA CARONNI was born in Italy and has been living in Asia for over twenty years. Paola holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Hong Kong and an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Milan.

Paola’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in various printed anthologies and online literary journals (American Writers Review; Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine; Making Space; Where Else: International Hong Kong Poetry Anthology; The Curator; Cha: An Asian Literary Journal; The Wild Word; New Asian Writing; Wisconsin Review; and elsewhere). Paola’s first poetry collection Uncharted Waters (2021) won the Proverse Prize in 2020 and received a grant from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

If Life Were Cala della Disa

If life were the cove 
the creek I discovered 
along the jagged coast 
of ancient Sicily 
I would call it home

I would lie down 
on blankets of white
fragments of corals and shells,
on rocks munched by the sea
murmuring through their holes
with the voice of crabs, urchins, mussels.

I would 

My hair flowing loose
dry like Sirocco chiming,  carrying
alchemy of smells: almond, ash, 
figs, ferns, wild fennel. 

I would swim 
in its motherly waters
a crystal ball through which I’d see 
my life, my past unroll
like an undecipherable Chinese scroll.

The sounds of the sea
the waves docking against the walls
of the caves
would keep me awake.

The blue that meets the blue, the emerald,
the lightest hue,
would tell me it’s time to view the world 
in colours.

Tasting               the salt on my lips and limbs,
thirst and hunger growing
with my wish to hug the ocean
cross the horizon.

I would dig then
drink from the mouth of a spring
somewhere on the hill ‘lì sopra’, above,
nourished by blobs of berries 
hidden in bramble bushes  
that would burst in my mouth.

My body at last exhausted, satisfied,
would rest  inside the caravanserai 
cast in the clouds
while the swallows as they glide
the seagulls in their flights 
               would lure me — teach me
how to dive deeper 
read the currents
ride the waves
adapt to the sea, the tides.

Intermission in Abruzzi

It was a moment
caught in the net hanging from the trabocco
over an expanse of blue.

It slipped away like a fish that falls, unaware, 
into the trap, wriggling,
glinting under the sun in its last jumps.

An instant 
tinted with yellow, copper-green, fuchsia,
continuously blooming.
Like a Brazilian jasmine,
red, velvety,
its scent arousing
the sultry summer nights.

A moment
with a deep, sensual voice,
an echo 
locked in a cave for years,
for fear of entrancing the shadows.

Its taste was bitter, like must,
and tantalising like cinnamon.
Provocative like cocoa.
Stubbornly lingering.

Southern Winds  

Arabesques of leaves cast shades on the wall, 
Dressing and undressing the trees in the dark, 
Luring glances behind a Chinese screen.  

It was once sirocco from the desert,  
Warm breath carrying grains of salt and sand, 
Caravans of Tuaregs crossing dunes  
Sharp like knives,  
Mutable like moods.  

Bushes of capers grew on thirsty soil.  
Their flowers, little green pearls,  
Their berries, home to a hundred tiny seeds 
Planted in my taste buds  

               So that I won’t forget  

The rustling of the trees’ swinging limbs 
Enveloped in the notes of the flute  
And the raging waves  
On summer nights at the edge of the African coast 

               Moments before the storm.

(‘Southern Winds’ is part of Paola Caronni’s poetry collection
‘Uncharted Waters’, published by Proverse Hong Kong in 2021)

Poetry in this post: © PAOLA CARONNI
Published with the permission of PAOLA CARONNI