This poem is taken from Stand 230, 19(2) June - July 2021.
In the other Venice, purposeful hands grasp and grip. The old empire’s four Tetrarchs squeeze one another’s shoulders. Once, all those centuries back, they were kings, brothers and lovers.
In that city, there’s no forgetting. To the south, cruise ships loom like wailing walls. To the north, steam from Marghera’s powerplants smudge the horizon. Still, those old Romans remain, locked in their imperial embrace.
My own city is a simulacrum of its Adriatic other. There’s no mistaking our bay for their lagoon, or this ocean for that sea, or one language for the other. We share some of the same tourists, who chase a carnival from city to city. They walk up and down our boardwalk and over our bridges. They pose for pictures, selecting the icon that says I am here.