Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Afternoon in Venice




There are moments in your life that are so strange you are not

Sure they really happened, maybe you dreamed them, so that they

Become a part of your memory of possible event. That time we were

Walking in Venice, a hot day, humid, still, during siesta, when the

Whole floating city seemed emptied, or asleep. We were  lost, or

Casually wandering between passageways so narrow a vehicle

Could not pass, when we entered a small square, though trapezoids

Are not squares. Utterly empty. As we crossed over to the other

Side, someone in a third story apartment began to play a piano,

Something…the way you recognize music almost instinctively

From a few stray notes…by Debussy, L’Isle Joyeuse!, cascade of

Keys flowing up and down the board, an immersion in the exotic

Tonality of dream—improbably here, in this city so strange in its

Insubstantiality, at this moment, which I knew to be neither accident

Nor fate, almost made me think it was not happening, had not

Happened, would never happen. We stood, for perhaps a minute, listening,

Not speaking, awed by its wondrous eeriness. Then walked on,

Reluctantly, because you can’t linger forever inside dream moments,

They pass as inexorably as real ones, and can’t be retrieved, and can’t

Be relived, no matter how beautiful, or intriguing, or unique they seem.    


Kirby Olson said...

I loved this! Personal experience? what day, what year?

Conrad DiDiodato said...


it's nice to read a poem with allusive & rhythmic strength, and where 'site' doesn't mean some god forsaken postmodern wasteland but trapezoid squares, dreamy 'calle' and "Debussy, L’Isle Joyeuse!"

I've been to Venice a few times myself: thanks for the memories!

Curtis Faville said...


Do you suppose that pianos go out of tune easily in the damp atmosphere of the Veneto?

That might lend the watery metaphor a bit more interest!

Conrad DiDiodato said...


Joseph Brodsky wrote in this way, too, of archaic, charmingly out-of-tune plazas and people of old Europe.

I hope that style of poetry comes back.