Venice

Kids, heedless, chasing a soccer ball through clumps of bemused tourists.

 

Snatches of rapid-fire Italian to the staccato beat of high heels on flagstones.

 

A dead tree in a bedraggled campo, the buildings all round shuttered and shuddering at the painful memory of lost glory.

 

A grandmother in a housedress and flip-flops, squatting to reach into the Rio dei Tolentini with her broom to fish out the top of a Tupperware container. Victory! She holds it up, grinning.

 

Glimpse of beautiful people seated in a water taxi and clutching wine glasses: one woman’s impossibly sleek, burnished legs and her coterie of dark young men in their tight-fitting, perfectly tailored suits.

 

Iron gates hanging from marble pillars, pink flowers sprayed above, and behind all these the dark, glossy green mystery of an ancient courtyard.

 

Jaded, weary seagulls picking through trash.

 

A dog taking a crap in front of the steps of the Chiesa di San Pantaleone Martire, never mind the poor fellow’s great suffering and martyrdom in the time of the Emperor Diocletian.

 

Pitter-patter of raindrops on the green surface of an out-of-the-way canal, on canvas tied tight over an abandoned gondola, on the flimsy plastic stuck to the skin of a glum tourist.

 

A brilliant ray of late-afternoon sunshine, celebrating the completion of its 100-million-mile journey by transforming ordinary roof tiles into pure gold.

 

 

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