Two kinds of imagination: the strong, the promiscuous.
Watching a boneless nymph’s
from a spout in the pavement
over and over; catching a glimpse
of the source of my exhaustion,
as if my gaze all this time had lent
muscular support to her effort . . .
She wasn’t at all as mischievous
as her sisters, who seeped up
through the flagstones of the court,
serving the blue basilica to us
repurposed as a teacup.
Nor was she as splenetic as
the poltergeist in the moka pot,
seething liquid from every fissure,
then exploding on its ring of gas.
If it seemed that water was fraught
with divinities under pressure,
maybe I was going mad myself,
just a little, in this hall of mirrors.
So much glass my eyes glazed over,
and green waves laminating a shelf
where recto sits, and verso appears
in blinding dazzle seeking cover.
Such a surplus of marble that
even in the apartment I occupied
(no palazzo), the stairs luminesced;
if, as Michelangelo had thought,
therein lurked an angel, it was mortified
under the tread of a houseguest.
But when I reached the door,
sprung the lock, climbed the last
spiral flight in thin air,
it was to a wheelhouse (more
or less) of a vessel held fast
to its view of the sestiere;
and I was alone with the seagulls,
listening to the creaking ropes
of dinghies below, whose sway
I felt—impossibly—in lulls
unaddressed as sails, or hopes:
tethered to my getaway.