Daily Archives: March 10, 2020

A Taste, A Sniff

The only thing I want now is
a taste, a sniff

of life. A sample of it.

Living itself
has become 
such a cold concern. 

To have access
to any flavor 
that reminds me

of how warm it used to feel
to be immersed
in living, to think of 

living as a surge
into which
one could dive

to come up soaking
and joyful with life:
that’s all I want.

A memory of that
would be enough.
Living as we do now

is beyond me.
I can’t do what living
in these times

demands: the virtual killing,
the deadly spiritual sneer,
the all or nothing thrust

of getting through
and getting by
on this world’s current terms.


Originally posted 2012. Revised.

There are facts
which are known to be facts
through deep apprehension of their truth

long before they come true. For instance,
there’s no evidence yet
for the truth of my conviction

that I shall never return to Venice;
that how it vanished, slowly,
as I stared back at it

from the stern of the motoscafi 
that took me to the airport for the trip home
will be my permanent last memory of the city.

It’s not yet a fact
that I will never see Venice again,
but I know it to be true as solidly

as I know anything.
It’s as true as the scar in my foot
from the time I stepped

on broken Murano glass.  As true
as the view of Ezra Pound’s grave
and the smell of the nearby crematorium

on San Michele.  As true
as the Albanian refugees
begging wordlessly on bridges. 

Someday you will be able to say
that I visited Venice
just once in my life,

that it left a scar upon me
I can feel
whenever I walk.  

Every step I’ve taken since I left
has carried me farther
away from Venice. 

This won’t be a fact for years yet,
only blooming fully as such
on the day I die.

But I know a fact
when I conceal one,
and daily I do my best

to conceal from myself
this thing I know to be
unalterably true:

that I will not return 
to Venice, not in this life,
not in this body, not in this form.