It is gloomy,
especially in the rain,
the waterways with mist rising off them,
memories of past visits here
and earlier loves—
ghost smudges barely glimpsed,
dripping alleys,
steps dissolving into water,
old ladies behind curtains
eating off trays,
lives that have themselves become riddles.

Then it changes overnight.
The salt breezes open one’s nostrils to delight,
the tourists are suddenly not
so dowdy and badly dressed.
The canals glitter that famous jade green,
the motoscafi fly their tricolor pennants bravely,
and the sky is once again
that cerulean blue the painters loved.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 4, on page 41
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