Dracinee and Ferodisie


There was something that the Dracinee had to do without having the courage for it. It was a question of scaling, of climbing, of taking a leap from one mountain peak to the next. But in the journey they felt alone, afraid of getting lost and remaining behind, while the others, more able by nature to separate from their previous abodes, were looking at them already a little distracted by the new glaciers that shined in their eyes under the sun. It was because the Dracinee knew how to see the void, the abyss, the desolation of the space no one occupied, from the cliff.

Along the way the Dracinee forgot the goal and why they had decided to reach it, and it was, then, necessary that each step be based on sure ground, that it contain traces of their preceding habits.

So many thoughts, so much pity came down along the sides of their bodies, like a garment of words whispered to someone inside who still stood firm.

Forgetting the cause of the displacements, they clung to the little things with which they knew they had a tie, and they told each other that if they moved, it would be only to learn to go where someone was waiting for them, or to learn where they wouldn’t be able to stay. Revealing a morbid attachment for places, they ended up losing them, or being driven away from them. Thus it happened that the Dracinee became that no-man’s-land impossible to confine, which had to do with them but which wasn’t tolerable, so devoid of foundation. These animals then made themselves a house of words: it wasn’t a matter of great weariness, but every day they had to restore a wall, repair a chimney pot, mend the doors again, because the sentences caved in and continually contradicted themselves, addressed as they were to someone far away who didn’t consolidate them with a response.

When these animals were small, they had been placed to sleep in the vicinity of their mother’s couch. While lying down in the hay, the majority had to stare at the image of a family and a little donkey; the woman, with an azure dress. Although they had no idea what it was about, it wasn’t difficult to feel compassion and a great sympathy toward that poor nucleus of persons on a journey, on foot and without baggage. This image, which had kept them company and provided a slight comfort against the cry of the screech owl, made them able to bear feeling deprived of a home, and to make due with not having one, in order to be like these painted figures and to render them less alone.

The Dracinee have purple eyes, but light purple, which doesn’t curse. They have hurt no one if their refusing to conform to that monotonous coming and going with which other animals scatter their tracks on the crust of the earth isn’t criticized.  They have a stomach that shifts in various directions, and they amuse themselves during rainy days by looking down, head first, at how it jerks and seeks a way out from the belt of feathers that keeps it bound to the body. They’re old, they know the times but they’re not burdened by them; escaped from history, they’ve forgotten the attraction of deeds; fulfilled yet upright, seduced by the art of disappearance, they’ve found nothing better than staying motionless in order to make us lose track of them.

They don’t sing, whether in a voice that slides in impalpable movements or one devoid of a sense of direction.  What they want is not known; the trees that argue tenderly about them, after having comfortably observed them, since Dracinee curl up willingly among the knotty paths of their roots, arrived at the conclusion that they’re afraid of being forgotten though they don’t go very far away. The cabbage butterflies that flutter about the blackberry bushes think so too, and so do these cotton flocks that shudder among the leaves and dried branches beside the waterways.


One meets few Ferodisie. They’re born in numerous groups, but as they mature most of them lose the characteristics peculiar to their species, which, unfortunately, consist in the yearning for unattainable goals, at arm’s reach for others, but difficultly conquerable for these emaciated bipeds with their habit of taking into consideration as elements of balance and satisfaction solutions for living quite adverse to their potentiality.

From this situation derives the confusion that’s created when you try to define where these animals, similar to large wax candles burning in a light breeze, actually live. It’s supposed, in fact, that scarcely there in a landscape suitable to their needs, the study of whose nature could be useful in understanding more in detail with which substances they nourish themselves and how they advance, the Ferodisie, after having made uncertain movements that give the impression of someone overwhelmed by malaise, take to their heels and seek refuge in deserted zones from where they renew their propensity to watch for the passage of mirages. It’s not rare that they capture some and that these mirages manage to appear so convincing as to guarantee even them the sensation of being concrete reality, and not apparent, or in any manner, projections of structures existing elsewhere. For a brief period, sufficient to give the Ferodisie the measure of a palpable love, the mirages feel graspable, and the animals that we’re describing, settled in a comfortable place. Naturally, it can’t last, because it’s inevitable that the weather erodes this distorted vision and brings back the right light, either to the Ferodisie in an uneasy blow, or to the mirages, which recognize the inconsistency with which they’re entwined. While the latter give themselves up to the wind that’s driving, the Ferodisie try to be like others, and it’s thus that most of the species is dispersed and transformed, or else, after repeated laments, they bend their snouts toward the polished rocks at the edges of the basins where women are doing the wash. Looking at themselves, glimpsing themselves in the cold and dark water, seems to restore them a little, but once newly acclimated to their deep breathing, here they are again, day after day, exhausting themselves behind apparitions with which they don’t find points of contact. They crouch nearby staying to gaze, and become excited as if it were a matter of children by whom they’d been repudiated.

Because of such a paradoxical nature, the Ferodisie don’t encounter greater fortune in confrontations with those to whom they attribute the quality of enemies. Gifted with sharp court-swords that spring from the cartilage of their palms, they begin, in determined atmospheric conditions, a giddy saraband for the high plains, the whole night, to chase ghosts of enemies, which they reach, chop up, overtake, and wound uselessly because they neither disappear, are made smaller, nor weaken the sudden apparitions where the Ferodisie were certain of no longer having the adventure of driving them out. It ends at about dawn, with weeping in the recognition that they’re unable to fight, that they don’t find it congenial to come to blows, and that it was a mistake to permit the court-sword to develop.

They sneeze little, stumble rarely, but they often have the hiccups.

There’s no argument for them that’s still worth the hope of managing to get along together. Either they’re light and bright, or dark and curly like pieces of wood. The light ones don’t knit their brows; the curly ones’ feathers curve behind like fish in a current.

In maturity, after their dazzling set of teeth has passed over seasons of failures, and their fingers have lengthened in the vain attempt to reach the reciprocity destined to them, the Ferodisie limit themselves to small movements, unadorned with ambition, they privilege the intense passion of the sun over the roar of the banquets.


Monica Sarsini

Monica Sarsini was born in Florence, where she lives and teaches writing. She is also an artist who has shown her work in Italy and other countries. Libro Luminoso (Exit Edizioni, 1982) was followed by Crepacuore, Crepapelle and others. A collection of her work was published in English under the title of Eruptions (Italica Press, 1999).

Maryann De Julio

Maryann De Julio is a Professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. She has translated work by contemporary French and Italian writers as well as the eighteenth-century French activist, Olympe de Gouges. Her translations of other work by Sarsini have appeared in Italica Press, Absinthe, and Germ.

Dracinee and Ferodisie. Copyright (c) Monica Sarsini, 1988. English translation copyright (c) Maryann De Julio, 2012.