Albino Pierro

The Funeral

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to Ernesto de Martino

Before, if there was
a funeral in town,
the band would follow,
and so did with his rakes
Domenico the Dwarf.
I can still hear the deep
sound of the saxhorn
cut clean as with an ax
by the crash of cymbals
that lengthened quivering to weep
in the white thin voices of the clarinets.
Now everything has changed
even if the change's been slow,
but the priests are still around
and the sextons with the cross
walking behind young boys in a long row
holding small moon-yellow
iron crowns.

They carry the casket on their shoulders
and the peasants' feet trundle like lead
in their heavy shoes and hobnailed heels:
they make the sound that country wagons make,
when they come out at night, in the light rain,
and like pelted stones violently wrench
the luckless rich people from their sleep.

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