Venetian Notes

by Adam Elgar
Inside the Writer's Studio
Honorable Mention, March 2007
Judged by Pascale Petit


Cannaregio

It’s this way in, an umbilicus through a living monument
to everything that long ago mislaid its century, and stands
now on the sufferance of time, a backdrop to the boat’s
raucous trance, its grunt and shudder as it strikes the Campo
wall, our shock in finding that the tunnelled waterways
and pox-peeled facades are not illusions after all. This
is the unmoving dance of brick and stone on ether.

Santa Croce

This is the capital of claustrophobia
where liquid alleyways drown light
in pungent green, steep furtive passages
conspire along their dark cammin, and slip us
through the city’s corseted heart.
One humpy bridge will take us only to the next,
our dread and fascination mounting
till the pesceria like a sudden tide
grants us the gift of openness,
the sea in boxes on an ice-slicked floor,
fish gilded, rosy, silver, veined with blue,
beside a flaunt of sucking discs in stars
and jointed creatures trying not to die.
Our hearts’ tides make no sense of this.

Dorsoduro

Our eyes stream at the dazzle on the Zattere.
Here the world’s light tightens to a smack,
there’s no escape from blue except returning
through the narrow calli where the shadows
sulk in loyalty to winter.
This taut geometry discharges us at last
to lunch in kinder light subdued by stone.
The weary curve of Campo Santa Margherita
drinks, as we do our Friuli, the declining sun.



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