Friday, October 01, 2010

Poems of place

Working on a novel set in Italy reminded me of my poem about Venice. I love poems of place, especially Elizabeth Bishop's South America poems.

Wearing Venice

I have taken to wearing Venice
on my wrist. Beads of glass
with foil hearts dangle
from my hand as I jog
around a geometrical landscape
ruled by science and not art.
I have crafted a bracelet of glass
to wear a city water whisks,
echoing through airy loggias,
sloshing on slimed stones,
dazzling the ogee-arched
windows from which Venetians hung
gold flags and corpses.

A world winks on my arm, mysterious
as the eye of a bronze horse.
Green beads click a rosary of longing
for luminous sheets of pink water.
Venice shimmies up my forearm
and a sighing Venetian crosses a bridge.
In summer, when gondoliers pole
black boats through stone canyons,
pushing down on fathoms of muck,
you sink into a spell, surging
around the cloud-colored city
on this wave and that.
Then Venice wears you,
a swinging bauble of glass and light.