Friendly Street Poets
(for my daughter)
The beach has its petticoat showing,
Like a hand-made lace from the Venice lagoon.
Do you remember when we took the ferry to Burano, the narrow paths along the canals, the women on sun-bleached three-legged stools outside their narrow front doors, stitching, needle-pricked fingers and failing eyes, while their men drank coffee and smoked those insufferable filterless cigs? And the sons, swarthy and handsome but you too young yet for their gaze, who pushed carts laden with lace packages across the cobbles towards narrow jetties and low-slung barges?
The sea is dappled glass, that deep green of Murano. Do you remember watching as the glass was blown and turned and blown again by big-chested men with balloon cheeks, who could make a blob into a molten bird, with a puff here, a tilting there for the liquid to droop into a beak, a sharp rotation for a wing? We bought a sculpture in the glass-blower’s little shop, not the one we watched him make but more grand, and somehow brought it home in hand luggage.
We scavenged along the shore for water-worn shards trying to build a colour-chart collection. You have not been allowed to forget how you slipped on a mossy rock and got your bottom wet, then a strong arm reached down to pluck you out, a man in a straw-boater and a striped shirt - your own gondolier, we called him. We’ve dined out on that story more than once, embarrassing you with the first few bars of ‘O Sole Mio.
I still recall the over-priced pasta in the Piazzetta, that tasted like sand but we didn’t care, because the table had a cloth of red and white squares and we were right there in a postcard scene on a balmy night. I think you even took a sip of my Chianti.