no city gives away her secrets frivolously



“so why’re you painting her so dark?” he asks
“i see her much more bright, in sunny colors”
“maybe it’s her soul, her history,
the sea that creeps under her very breath, a carrier, a foe?
not sure exactly”
we walk endless alleys

on the splinters of our marriage,
i wear my yellow dress, the only one
that seems to fit her wide majestic smile

Venice’s not a city to tear/
what was one for 27 years/ /apart
so we make love
as if we had just met in one of the italian coffeebars
in the wee hours in the morning

“i couldn’t live here” i say
i’d get lost a thousand times every other minute
’round the corner just a few steps to the sea
is where this path ends

“we don’t have a boat” i shout
“we don’t need one” he shouts back
just around the bend another bridge
another //yet another
“there are millions but
where do they lead to?”

we are one dot on the map, a giant maze
i trace us
with my hand
“let’s get on a vaporetto”
i walk to the rear end,
get a free seat in the wind,

the engine’s heavy rattle against my back
feet up on the railing,
diesel exhaust spins like one big flag around my head

“not too loud, too hazy?” hubs asks
“no” i say
cause i’ve started listening
to the stories of the boat, told in a loud italian tongue
“see, this is Rialto bridge” it says

“as if i didn’t know” i pout
“but can you tell me where the dragons land that show up in the old man’s bookshop?”

“ohhh” it pauses for a long weird breath
“have you seen them?”

“no” i shake my head

“then you haven’t understood the spirit of this city yet” it says

and spits us out
at Fondamente Nuove


19 responses to “no city gives away her secrets frivolously

  1. There is quite a bit of emotion and tension in this. On the splinters of your marriage. Its not an easy road, but I believe in miracles you know. Smiles. But nice honesty in giving us a look in. I hope the change in scenery was good for you, for a bit – a jump start.

    Then you dont understand the city yet – is my fav part, as it implies we still have so much work to do in order to get to know her.

  2. I think and hope there is hope for those splinters to becoming bridges again. The darkness on how you paint her and the dragons in the bookshop.. it seems like a necessary journey to bridge the gaps… wonderful writing, so many layers here.

  3. The splinters can be built back up. Not knowing all about a city can sure be fun, as new things to see and do, but getting lost, not so fun sometimes lol

  4. I especially love the heart of the poem – “Venice is not a city to tear….apart.” You took us along on the boat, in the canals of Venice, for which I thank you mightily.

  5. Oh my, this is a tale of a wondrous enigmatic intimate portrait of her complexities. Love “I get lost a thousand times every other minute”, the “free seat in the wind”. All this deserves a pout…again, love the yellow dress, color of hope, and maybe those dragons must be slain?? As Bjorn and X say, layers of emotion here.

  6. A difficult city to truly understand, beneath its tourist veneer and the melancholy. I get the darkness and the divisions it shows up between people. Layers upon layers in this poem – fills my heart with wonder and trembling fear and sadness – and hope.

  7. Claudia, I think Venice can be both light and dark…as any city can be. I think we find in Venice what we knew we would, and I wonder if the yellow dress made a difference. I sure liked the picture though. (smiles) I rode in a vaporito in Venice once. Actually I was on a tour, and so many went in a gondola. Not me….and I crossed the Rialto Bridge & actually got lost in Venice with a Dutch bus driver, but that is another story & my story, not yours. But I do have fond memories..smiles. I didn’t see any dragons though, so perhaps I should go back. 27 years? It has been more than that long since I’ve seen Venice. I wonder what has changed.

  8. My marriage of 46 years has had so many splinters, some easy, others harder to pull out. But love conquers and you and hubby will come to the best healing path. Wish you the best. How nice to have these days in Venice.

  9. I love in the splinters of our marriage….. All marriages have challenges, this is honest and intimate. I am glad you are enjoying Venice.

  10. I have never been there, but I have written about the city. Reading what you have written here makes me believe I got it right. Often (as this time) your poems really hold me here.

  11. listening to Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime – there is water underground – same as it ever was… time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us.

    this poem reminds me of that, somehow ~