MY GRAND CANAL
This, for the overwritten city,
for the sheen of its domes above waterline
viewed at night from the vaporetto—at least at night,
for the rise in the throat, the longing
always present, but not to be addressed
by the cynic, this, the ache for an ethics of wonder,
thread between numinous threads, now waters,
now burnished light, yet harmonious
before suffering—insufficient, sentimental,
smacking of sentiment at least, with its question of what
is to be repaired, is there something to repair?
This for the syllabaries. Wordsworth’s
“Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee,”
O art, eliding a darker history,
city that coined the word “ghetto.”
But the gold-lit domes, oro, ore, as in shimmer,
as in sweet vocables he “sighed his soul toward,”
sweet uplift out of those histories.
How is one prepared for this?
Hath not a tourist ears? Hath not a tourist eyes?
Betimes, this plinth of desires, its concatenations of simulacra.
Old Ez, entombed on San Michele,
you can be redeemed,
but outside of time
when the verse will be read as cut
beyond the right and wrong of it.
Can this be allowed, this conciliation
as little miracles are allowed
And there betimes, baroque San Moisè,
Moses and his Law honored, not in horned marble,
but on Meyring’s altar piece, where on Mount Sinai
he receives the Tablets. Old Testament prophets—
their voices interrupt chronology—
their graven images blent into divine illuminations.
Onsweep. O blind mores, the Grand Canal flows out
toward that isle of the dead.
Benefice in wonder. Almost sunset.
San Marco and its lions dissolve
in briny air, imagined space, imagined sound.
MJQ, Milt Jackson’s vibes, Connie Kay’s brush on cymbals,
The Golden Striker, to-be-figured sun of No Sun In Venice.
Only the dumbstruck find miracle
without context, which is why the notes remind me
that along canal’s byways, in the small churches
Titian and Carpaccio deliquesce—
O Western candles—
to be in love with their tapering.
And I am borne by a watery light
that flows us toward the now,
only to disappear among the eons,
matter, gravity, holding in the currents
as though we were each an offering.
Who likes dusk?
We should be wary of dusk,
when eyesight goes a little blurry.
The children have no fear
when the sun is almost set
and a little bird comes.
Is it the poet’s bird,
left the rock for the sill,
chirps in at the room?
I remember I asked
about the bird that came
to my dead parents’ window.
We should not be overjoyed
that dusk has come;
we should be reminded
of the irony.
I won’t ask
any more what is outside
the window or what
the little bird brings,
singing in the dusk.