Dawn on the black hill, and up on the roof
by Cesare Pavese
cats drowsing. Last night, there was a boy
who fell off this roof, breaking his back.
The wind riffles the cool leaves of the trees.
The red clouds above are warm and move slowly.
A stray dog appears in the alley below, sniffing
the boy on the cobblestones, and a raw wail
rises up among chimneys: someone's unhappy.
The crickets were singing all night, and the stars
were blown out by the wind. In dawn's glow,
even the eyes of the cats in love were extinguished,
the cats the boy watched. The female is crying,
no toms are around and nothing can soothe her:
not the tops of the trees, not the red clouds.
She cries to the wide sky, as if it were still night.
The boy was spying on cats making love.
The stray dog sniffs the boy's body and growls;
he got here at dawn, fleeing the glow
that crept down the far hill. Swimming the river
that drenched him as dew drenches fields,
he was finally caught by the light. The bitches
were still howling.
The river runs smoothly,
skimmed by birds that drop from red clouds,
elated to find their river deserted.