The shape of Lampedusa

(Notes for a future ‘Atlas‘ poem)
Lampedusa from space
Lampedusa from space

The island of Lampedusa has some highly intriguing shapes.

A door snail, peeking out of its elongated shell, checking if it’s safe to slide out.

The head of a shrew, looking the other way, toward Carthage. Or perhaps its foot, walking on the water, using the bubbles of air amid the hairs on its soles.

The ear of a rabbit, or of a Mediterranean pipistrelle. From a distance, the sound of a 1980s Libyan missile tearing through the sky, with inaccurate aim. Or the buzz of a wingless drone, surveiling the imaginary frontier between Europe and Africa. Or cries for help, in Afro-Semitic tongues, not too far back from the horizon.

A rudder fallen from a fishing boat.

For those who know how to swim, a springboard to Europe.
For those who ventured on the waves for the first time, a threshold to refuge. If the waves take them there.

A spindle, reeling out a thread, now marking the continental border, now offering a lifeline to those who have jumped or fallen overboard.

The dripping spout of a tap, with no lever or screw to close it.

A handsaw, with its handle taken off. Nowhere to grab it from without slicing your fingers, which is why nobody has yet dared to use it, to chop, in a single movement of the arm, the less than paper-thin thread separating Europe from Africa. Even if the saw’s teeth are eroded and blunt.

A smashed guitar, with burnt strings. No musical backup for those singing at the mass funeral. Nor for the national anthem, sung in memory of Italy’s newest citizens, awarded a tricolour flag under which to rest, after having pledged allegiance by kissing one of the remotest seabeds of Italy, and of Europe.


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