Monica Sarsini, p.1


Among the mimosa lives a strange animal that’s born wicked and then becomes good. But no one notices that it becomes good because it’s afraid that in showing itself to be kind someone will kill it. Its name is Dentalinea, and to all appearances, is delicate and charming because it mixes an austere and cantankerous aspect with a filling of sweetness and rash gaiety. When it’s bad it doesn’t eat, or does so secretly; when it’s good, even if no one knows, it vomits if the animals in its company don’t make it feel at ease. From when it’s born, Dentalinea’s in search of a family, but since it can’t see itself with its own eyes, it doesn’t know how to recognize those who are similar, and thus it mistakes species constantly. It lives in cities, dodged by the feet of the passersby like a banana peel. It crouches like a pebble in the streets illuminated by the venomous color of the traffic-lights and by the sudden headlights of the cars, lost, for most of the day, disturbed by the pigeons that swoop down like domestic vultures on the ticket stubs, thrown, crumpled up, into the gutter at the end of the show.

It has untidy feathers between which remain hanging filaments of colors that its body magnetizes. With these feathers it paints sinuous bluish chasms, speckled with pink on bright purple, on skating-rinks, which the rain disperses later and the wind conducts toward the fields, from where they reappear in the spring like anemones. It’s not known why it does this; certainly its creativity must compensate for the languor it feels keeping locked up inside itself so much sweetness.

Dentalinea dreams at night, gathers its wings under its head, and, like a paper umbrella without a handle, separates itself from the noises of the world when it’s tired, and goes to sleep. It dreams the continuation of the deeds that it has accomplished during the day and that it has always interrupted. If in the morning it put on a hat, in the dream it also wears an overcoat, socks and shoes; if it entered a store, in the dream it also bought many things; if it spoke with someone, in the dream it kissed him and held him tight. For this reason, Dentalinea prefers to sleep, because in dreams it’s not afraid of reaching the surfaces of life, of grazing them, of belonging to them. It’s in wakefulness, during the day, that walking among the feet of the passersby it doesn’t know how to behave, and thinks incorrect its way of looking at a shop-window, of holding the feathers around its body, of bending its head to one side when the sun strikes, or tiredness, or the difficulty of the game.

Dentalinea doesn’t migrate, having lost forever its sense of direction from when one of its ancestors had the distinct sensation that it could have dissolved without anyone noticing, since it never had any friends waiting for it at the station. Thus, it retraces the same itineraries every day.

In Bessarabia, it’s captured and used as a fan on Thursdays in the sunny verandas on the harbors by the ladies who wait for boats laden with precious cloth. They close their beaks in small rings of turquoise and hold them in their hands by the snout, which is smooth like a castanet and comfortable for the grip of a female palm. Toward dinner time, they set them free in the direction of the fields of reaped wheat. Fragments of spikes left behind between the parched clods shudder around the soft plumage of this animal that chatters while it carries on.