Mario Giacomelli’s Scanno

It’s 1962. Signor Giacomelli goes out with his camera,
His ‘avocation’. (Probably he had it with him by chance:
Who would want to take pictures at this hour?)

The sun half up, he uses flash, for contrast
And to brighten faces, but it’s no good.
Two noses and four down cast eyes only faintly appear.

What the matter? Are the women crying?
Has someone died? No. I think they’re always this unhappy.
After early mass somewhere in the Abruzzi district,

Traditional black coats eclipse the frame
Then wander dimly off.
You’ve probably not seen this photograph though

It’s very famous. The title is either something innocent
Or implies a sacrifice. And it’s strange
That when you stare into the puzzle for a long time

The little boy in long trousers
With his hands in his pockets, hair neatly combed,
And a face that shines specially,

Head cocked slightly right on top a crisp, white shirt,
Descends so nonchalantly on his own
Light pathway into this misery.

What is he
Here for?
What will he do?

 

Mario Giacomelli's 'Scanno'.
Mario Giacomelli’s ‘Scanno’ (1957).