The Fatalists

for Fiona

Bad thoughts, she says.  Bad thoughts.  Like him when he was her
Age.  Six.  Seven.  Eight.  It meant something.  He remembers.

Find the stargazer. Find it! She yells.  Her little box on the nightstand. 

It’s summer again.  With every year, fear changes into expectation, surprise
Into denial.  All the windows are open.  Smoke billowing from the trees.  

Nature is a disc that never stops spinning, Daddy.  He wants her to prove it.

She writes.  The world around me: I’m sleeping in the forest and it is scary to me.

Why the forest?  He waits.  I saw a woman in disguise: I went to the park.
A woman with a black coat on and a big hat on and she was staring at me and my

Spotted dog.  And my feet covered with warts, Daddy? January fields.  Black stars. 

He thinks.  Have the tigers emerged, Daddy?  They are moving.  From chamber
To chamber.  In the house built on ice.  They smile.  You’ll see.

It’s your brother in the adjacent room.  His delicate balalaika snores.    

Good night, my love.  But who is he to tell her to think of something
Beautiful . . . who is he to tell her that everything is going to be fine?

*Lines in italics were written by Fiona Pantano at age six.
First published in antiTHESIS, University of Melbourne, 2010.

DANIELE PANTANO is a Swiss poet, translator, critic, and editor born of Sicilian and German parentage in Langenthal (Canton of Berne). His most recent works include The Possible Is Monstrous: Selected Poems by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and The Oldest Hands in the World (both from Black Lawrence Press, 2010). His next books, Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser and The Collected Works of Georg Trakl, are forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press, New York. For more information, please visit