A narrow bank along the lagoon.
With a name resounding in a plural,
“the rafts”, since I was a child though
I have never imagined rafts here
but air swarming on a sunny side,
“let’s go to the Zattere for an ice-cream”,
it has always sounded as a space
with a scent of Sundays, where you could stroll
licking your cone, chattering, by the water.
Lapping water. It has always been
as if people and the motley everything
were “here” just in order to leisurely
gaze “over there”, at the other bank,
at that row of houses on the horizon
mirroring these houses, on a tidy line.
And beyond, poles and scattered spots
of green, other islands, the faintly trimmed
lagoon’s eyelashes, their flourishing flashes.
This bank, a whole gazing,
clearing its voice, passing the time,
drumming its fingers, indulging on some rhyme.
And the rafts? Well, let me say that
on this bank, on this verge, on this side,
there’s an urgency each step might hide,
the necessity of being ready, by this lapping
biding its time at your side.
Here, where you can easily get on board, on a raft,
where I can see you then crossing and waving, while fading.
Look at the waves, crests tossed all over
by the whooshing motorboats, tips
like fingers in a dance of their own.
Sit on this bench, the wall behind you
is yellow, imbued with sunlight, the air
is mellow even if it’s cold.
Sit and sense the stare of the passing time
in which all words can drown without a cry.
You lived here, by the narrowest stretch,
the water a few metres from your room,
in this palace with its glass door in the lull
of the lagoon, with the front wall shaped
like a ship’s prow. Ready to sail the seas.
The bank is also at its lowest level here,
the tide easily laps in, water an unframed arm
that can swiftly swallow you.
I remember your fingers grabbing the slippery
white stones of the bank hauling yourself up
from the boat; it was a summer day when
we had ventured to other side, it had been
a slow rowing, the boatman like a sentinel
standing quietly behind.
Walls and stones for me transpire you here,
by “the prow” of time looking at the unknown,
I am not sure how much you feared to disappear,
now you are air, salt, and whatever these words
hardly catch or rather don’t catch at all.
Words that against all odds,
in a whirlwind of their own
or in a buffeting breeze, don’t cease.
On this edge, this margin, so narrow,
stung by the raw lace of the shrieking gulls.