The black gondola suavely beckons, a
luxury not to be missed. So you nod,
step gingerly aboard, and let yourself
sink into the plush throne. The masked city
is sinking too, dissolving in the foul
water where even sodden newsprint and
rotten fruit are almost ennobled by
St. Mark’s dome and those phallic lions.
You’re rocked and rolled under pastel clouds
in the ineffably soft light of
recollected paintings; undulating
swells reflect glinting palazzos. So you
sigh, go limp, submerged in antiquity.
The ebony prow skims over the canal.

Lido or Lethe, crib or coffin, either
way you’re cradled in oblivion by
the lilt of the as-yet-unpaid tenor
at his sweep, caroling cannily.

Robert Wexelblatt is a professor of humanities at Boston University. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play, and the novel Zublinka Among Women, winner of the First Prize for Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2008.