Venice Sestina

Rhyming sestina for Venice!


I have never known you in this city; you are untouched in Venice

body unburied beneath my fingerprints, I’ve not mapped you through these maps,

canals and streets entwine in my minds vision.

Hotel Rialto, river side view of the cruises and cathedrals, chants

That deepen the air, city all quartered up like a cake into six slices

Motor boats the new taxis down theGreatCanal’s liquid road


Valentine’s Day the busiest of the year, gliding reflections sold

Boats balance; hieroglyphics form, your face flowers. The waiters all pensive

The wine bottles sweat, their buckets slender as arms, iced,

Dressed up to the nines, the city clothed in its brightest, a sapling

Grown to heady heights, its branches rivers, the sea a bank

Girding the city. You are I are somewhere kissing


Near a funnel of light that drips like a watercolour’s vision 

OfVenice. All bridges and couples, exchanging looks like a code

In their own personal language. Museums and artists plant

Portraits in our heads, I take your likeness, against a backdrop of menace

The poverty streets hint at, stray cats, pigeons amassed

Plentiful as gondolas, the lopsided S of your name slices


Through the map ofVenice, where boats prey on tourists- entices

Them to camera these scenes of soft light their transmission

Of evidence of romance beams through the laptop, trapped

Behind time and place and screen. We are weighed down, loaded

With whatVeniceis before we’ve seen it, serving penance

For who we said we were before we knew, our childish rants


Our adult banter.Venicesmells strange in summer, decant

The perfume of littered streets into bottles, retain, apply when ripe

To just below my ear lobe, your breath ghosts, slightly alcoholic

Then acqua alta come winter, the tide of our kissing

Rises on the sidewalks, beneath stone lions and eroded

Buildings, crumbling wings, lost flight, receding back.


‘must I hold a candle to my shames?’,  where Shakespeare sat,

ancient Renaissance running deep beneath reflections glib slants

our snapshots transporting us when we are home, water bus abode

and our feet still aching from the city streets, our weary slide

from water to land. The skyline a broken image hidden

somewhere in our thoughts of Venice, a resurrecting séance


where we chant our anecdotes, our high water maps, flooded

with visions of you and brick all green and gold, lost feet

down roads still pattering through our spliced up sunsets, the view from bridges.


About Quad

The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.
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