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