When I was young I saw her,
tapping along the mosaic
in leather shoes and stiff veil,
along a hall, all lit in red and blue,
the stained glass saints, glittering in the sun.
Her embroidered days of prayer and chore
were bound in a gilt edged India paper book,
that treasured little cards,
the pressed flowers
of an existence that ran from end to end.
- a compassed life ordered by the rule.
A clock fills the hall with chimes
familiar in the dust filled rays
that drag the evening in.
Who from his grave had, with golden wheels
in his creation, caught up eternity
in shining brass and wood,
and measured out her years?
She was but a passing fly,
that buzzed a while among the coloured saints.
Starched air stands to attention,
the callous sky cracks over the lagoon,
and with rods of rain that pierce the even waters
it is done.
From my window
I can see it
washing down the Rialto
painting it black.
The songs of the Gondolas are over,
romance suspended in the rain.
The savage gods have with citrus lick
roused dreaming lovers from their sleep.
At such an hour, all battles surely end
when victors tramp in reddened mud
to count their dead and roll away their guns.