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Ghosts

Kevin Irie


guests (if we imagine them) come some
distance for the mealů
——Steven Heighton



Near the Ponte dei Pugni,
just short of the campo,

I order dinner
at an outdoor table,

trusting my luck
more than my language

to find I am given
a first course of—what?—

looks like dried squid, shredded to laces,
Japanese food

heaped on the platter
and no one around

for me to comment that I never was
crazy about such food in the first place.

What of the dish the waiter described
to the couple one table over,

his words a small serving
of the feast before them:

lasagna in butter sauce
layered with zucchini?

What of the fork and knife,
plebian scepters

of Western rule
in an Eastern household?

No shoyu,
but wine at each table;

a carafe, a bottle,
the hue of dusk canals.

I could pass my order
to the ghost of my grandmother

who would never have dreamt
of visiting Venice,

share it with a late uncle
who wanted to see Europe

as long as he still had
his chopsticks and rice.

Among lace curtains woven in Burano
and this darkening campo,

its gelato shop
bright as a midway stall,

I imagine them sitting here—
family, lost, watching me eat:

grandmother, uncle,
faint whisper of the Japanese

I have never understood—
ghosts at my table finding their place

as memory leads me
to mine.



Kevin Irie's works copyright © to the author.


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