the chop of water,
its lap and lisp on gondola prows,
and the slap of waves eroding
foundation stones and marble steps.
the sound of tools
tapping, planing, polishing.
the caress of a cello’s chord
soaring through a basilica.
Vivaldi and Monteverdi threading
the contrapunt of vegetable vendors,
vying with street music. Bar music
drifting down canals after dark.
where the smell of cappuccino
slips out of doorways,
lingers over oregano and cardamom,
mingles with must on saltwater.
light caught at an angle
in all the fragility of stained glass.
the color of pigment
hand-ground by Bellini, Canaletto, Gambello,
masters who painted the saturation
of jade water channels, the filigree of crosses,
the shadow of wrought iron,
and the many faces of Madonna and Child.
the color of liquid reflecting palazzo walls
laundry drying high on lines.
the jewels applied by the makers of masques.
and the mystery behind the masque.