the number 5

I spent the weekend in Milan, my old stomping ground, meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long. I stayed with a friend in my old building, one floor above our old apartment, and I rode the trolley I used to take to work when it was raining so hard I couldn’t ride my bike. I wondered if I’d remember where to get off, and I did, even in the dark. Saturday morning we went to the same market where I used to buy my whole grain bread and produce for the week ahead. The sounds and sights and smells of Milan were very much like I remembered them.

Old pictures were brought out from seven years ago. I was pregnant, or nearly, and my ex and I look like babies ourselves! What sweet, happy faces we had! I asked if I could keep one, as a souvenir.

Another of my former neighbors, my old landlord actually, a kind, generous, fascinating man with a handful of degrees in History and a passion for the theater, literature and Tuscany, gave me a poem by Bruno Tognolini.

La Filastrocca dei Mutamenti

Aiuto, sto cambiando! – disse il ghiaccio
Sto diventando acqua, come faccio?
Acqua che fugge nel suo gocciolìo!
Ci sono gocce, non ci sono io!”
Ma il sole disse: “Calma i tuoi pensieri
Il mondo cambia, sotto i raggi miei
Tu tieniti ben stretto a ciò che eri
E poi lasciati andare a ciò che sei”
Quel ghiaccio diventò un fiume d’argento
Non ebbe più paura di cambiare
E un giorno disse: “Il sale che io sento
Mi dice che sto diventando mare
E mare sia. Perché ho capito, adesso
Non cambio in qualcos’altro, ma in me stesso”

(“Help, I’m changing!” said ice/I’m turning into water, what do I do?/ Water dripping away!/There are drops, there is no me!”/But the sun said, “Calm your thoughts/The world changes under my rays/Hold on tight to what you were/And then let yourself go to what you are”/That ice became a silvery river/It was no longer afraid of changing/And one day it said, “The salt that I taste/Tells me I am becoming the sea/And sea it is. Because now I know/I am changing not into something else, but into myself”)


About Jennifer

I'm a freelance translator and American expat. I live in Northern Italy with my two young sons.
This entry was posted in nostalgia, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to the number 5

  1. Hilary says:

    What a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. britt says:

    That is such a sweet poem. And what a great landlord!

  3. Melanie says:


  4. Jill says:

    Absolutely beautiful, thanks so much for sharing this! xo

  5. Annemarie says:

    So beautiful!

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