How would they read my writing on this wall
As I wait at sundown for the pealing of church bells
On a street in Venice?
The brown-robed monk, perhaps, would knock
On the door and I will confess, with a hint of absinthe
In my breath: last night they fished out
A half-naked woman from the canal, her body
Green with algae, her fists clotted with blood,
The fingers cold, her feet unhinged.
There is a street that ends on the far side
Of the Grande Canal, where gondolas do not venture,
Where a man and a woman made a pact
To wait in the swollen mud, their pale lips smeared
With linctuses of jasmine. There is a river
Whose banks untangle a clutch of seaweeds,
Releasing tides that flood the mosaics of San Marco.
A woman stands at the square, struck dumb by
cathedral pigeons, she whispers the forgotten prayer
That once brought all lovers
Cowering to their knees.
© Joel Vega
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