Issue 7 :: Spring 2005  
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Peter Covino

An Oyster Leads a Dreadful But Exciting Life …
(Reading MFK Fisher)

She may spawn several hundred million eggs, fifteen to one hundred million at a time.
It is hoped, sentimentally at least, that the spat—our spat—enjoys himself.
He devotes himself to drinking:
He can easily handle twenty-six or—seven quarts an hour.
Then one day, maternal longings surge between his two valves
And he becomes a she!


Danger lurks everywhere: duck-slipper-mussel-Black-Drum-leech sponge-borer and
The hated starfish. (Men try to catch it with things called star-mops.)
Life is hard, we say. An oyster’s worse:

Oyster Stew
1 quart oyster 4 tablespoons butter
2 cups oyster liquor celery salt
2 cups heavy cream pepper

Bring 1 cup of oyster liquor to a boil and when it has cooked for 5 minutes skim off the top. Cook the oysters in a cup of liquor until the edges curl. Add cream, butter and seasoning to taste etc.

*Celery salt in this recipe can almost be called “New England” now.

Fear not:
The unpleasant truth of a bad oyster is that it would immediately taste
Thoroughly nasty, though men’s ideas continue to run in the old channels about oysters
As well as God, war and women—

Cicero ate them to nourish his eloquence
They prevent goiter
Somewhere after 1461 Louis XI made them obligatory
In the times of Voltaire, Pope and Swift, they were considered apéritifs

Their omission:
A sure sign of internal disintegration, as if Ma came to church in her corset-cover
Or, Uncle Jim brought his light-o-love to the children’s picnic.
Huitres en Couquilles à la Rockerfeller
(An endearing bit of chi chi)
Tonier than any Louisiana oyster bar

Heating them can make them infamous

Never iced

In the cool fresh grayness of dawn

Cracked open in the shells
Sucking down the firm fish within.

L’ Iomara

L’Iomara, the underground river at the end
of our street, Via Vado dell’Occhiano No. 19

L’ Iomara, a naked boy rubbing dust
darker into his skin

The promise of day laborers with thick noses
and uncertain wages

Reflection of white sun on rocky ground

You are an uncertain step, tarpaulin
on the cement truck

L’Iomara, the dirty-water goddess of unidentifiable fruits
Collect phone calls; iron pots passed on as wedding gifts

Mange dog with a vindictive heart

You reward us with the memory of the bitten
Wolf, snake, rifle & tourniquet, glistening bracelet of cloth

In the mid-section of cool mud

Oh Iomara! Third day ration of bath water;
plastic blue jugs like the lungs of contadini

I see tobacco-headed goats covered in fists of dirt

Medicine of Language

Shred the language, dovrei scrivere,
filter the commerce: le strisce blu
della copertina, concertina,
concentrate, this arduous excuse
to excuse all, why the past
is a mirror, in it an anorexic sister
hair falling, capelli che cascano,
cascare, cascade, a waterfall
hold up the building, a Mannerist
mantelpiece pezzo di—pezzente
peasant nothingness what you belong to
the dust of country, not even a country
a hill town in some vague Neopolis
metropolis, non sono, am not;
while he turns so quickly—
we all want to see a Ford Explorer
in the mirror, nello specchio, specter
the divided part, spectator
spectacolo, spectacular medicine

in translation:
Medicina Mirabilis
di Peter Covino

Trad. di Francesco Di Vincenzo

Seziona la lingua, avissi 'a scriviri
filtra la contaminazione: 'i strisci blu
di la cupirtina, Cuncittina

fa' opera di concentrazione, difficile come scusa
per tutto, perché il passato
è uno specchio, in esso i capelli che cascono
di una sorella anoressica, tignusa
, cascatella, un precipizio d'acqua
ferma la costruzione, un focolare
di maniera, pezzu di pizzaru
contadino nullità ciò cui tu appartieni
la polvere del paese, non proprio un paese
una città sulla collina in qualche vaga Neopolis
metropoli, non sugnu, non sono;
mentre egli si gira così rapidamente
tutti noi vogliamo vedere un Ford Explorer
nello specchietto, 'nto specchiu, spettro
la parte separata, spettatore
spittaculu, medicina mirabilis.