A Parabola Parable

gondola-in-venice25 September 2016

My disappointment was acute.
My imagination was to blame.
For I had imagined a spectacular
sunrise upon arrival
at Venice.

But reality had its way with us.
A flat sheet of grey covered the sky.
It was entirely
a matter of absence of light
that made anti-climax of
the campanile penetrating the horizon.

Happily, the water taxi to the hotel
saw dazzle on the chop
of the Adriatic that smoothed
to the reflected browns of buildings
as we gained the canal.

From then, what described the air
was a church bell with felicitous tone,
and the sharp snaps of the wings
of pigeons, that cut at my sense
of hearing.

Beautiful Death is how I sensed
the city, overall, a crypt
out of Poe; the palazzi, tombstones
rising in a graveyard of water;
but Death alive, Death
being lived; Paradox, embodied.

There was the rationality
of mathematics present,
in how the bridges arced
in parabolas over the canals.
There was the assumption
of theology at the Frari church.

Passion flowed in the form
of seafood arrayed in the window
of a restaurant. There were
the labyrinthine lanes that led
to wells no longer in use.
I left a wish at one, anyway.

And in my mind I brought full-circle
the parabolas of the arcing bridges
when I watched gondolas being
rowed beneath them,
a gondola, a floating parabola.

To the felicitous tone of the bell, each night,
we fell to sleep and rose to dream.
Come the last morning, we taxied beneath
parabola after parabola
to the airport, our flight
in parabola up
over the serpentine water below,
home, again, toward America,
a smile awaiting us, west.

Philip Kuepper
(11 August 2016)

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