The Vestal Lady of Venice

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Second Place, February 2017
Judged by Sara Clancy

“but if a girl were possible
as I am possible
then marriage would be possible” …
Gregory Corso

I told her she was old with memories, but the truth was when
the moon sings with dreams and twilight her wedding veil,
I see her completely, as she is, and that is entirely alone.

She collected us like she collects butterflies or dogs, frames
and strange glasses, I think the world is blurred to her.
I think she likes it that way. She needs friends, not those

creepy painters. She needs her daughter to wave her wand
and turn her back into a mother. She is a monarch flitting through
an empty palace. The last time I saw her, during one of those wild

soirees, attended by vampires, she was bathing in the moon light.
From the gondolier she hired to ferry us around, as if we were on the river
Styx I could pretend for a moment she was young.

We were both the same age. I watched her rise from the fangy mooned
water, as if to leave her mermaid tail behind to join her tortured guests.
They cat called and waved her back into their amber lit lives.

It were as if she were hiding there among the bottles: a sequin
that had fallen off one of her tiaras or maybe she was a tear.
I looked at the watch she has given so freely from

her own hand and prayed for us both. That there would be time,
Sweet lady, when we could shrug off our tired human skin,
rattlers that devour the light. Then together, drift off

like one of her Chagall couples into a flame red sky,
a sailor’s best omen. Or like that apple that tempts us, leads us
instead into paradise. A place where time is simply a fool’
s notion.

There are so many exquisite lines in this poem, I hardly know where to begin, but “She needs her daughter to wave her wand and turn her back into a mother.” and “Then together, drift off /like one of her Chagall couples into a flame red sky,/a sailor’s best omen.” certainly caught my attention. Truth be told, I like this better than the Corso poem the title references. Simply beautiful. --Sara Clancy