I’m not useful and not beautiful,
I have neither happy colors nor odor;
My roots eat into cement,
And my leaves, which are edged with needles,
Watch out for me, as sharp as swords.
I’m silent. I speak only my plant language,
Hard for you, a man, to understand.
It’s a tongue that’s out of use,
Exotic, since I come from far away,
From a cruel country
Full of wind, of poisons and volcanoes.
I waited many years before expressing
This very tall, despairing flower of mine,
Ugly, woody, rigid, but aimed at the sky.
It’s our way of shouting,
I’m going to die tomorrow. Now do you hear me?


Translated from the Italian by Jonathan Galassi.

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