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Except for One

Linda Rogers
From:   Picking the Stones. Acorn Rukeyser chapbook award, 1998, p.6


Yesterday, someone was buried
Limousines rolled by with their lights on,
tinted windows rolled up,
except for one, open a crack,
wide enough for the hands of a child,
his fingers ecstatic as puppies
riding into the wind.

For twenty years we rode in a hearse,
the windows closed.
We couldn't see out or in,
spent so much time in the dark,
now it is hard to remember your face.

Except in Venice, the light was wonderful.
The children ate ice cream all afternoon
and in the evening our son, the piccolo cantore,
sang in the piazza, filled his gondolier's hat
with coins he put under his pillow
so every time he moved we could hear it.
Tonight Venice, he said in his sleep,
his voice sounding like money,
Italian royalty arguing in bed,
tomorrow the world.

The next day, at the Lido,
a hairdresser put his hand on my breast.
Mi sciocco, he said. Prego, mi scusi.
We had lunch in the grand hotel
and rented a seaside cabana.
I remember making love in the wooden hut,
(Even though you never did say love),
while the children played in the sand,
Italian sunlight slanting through slats
in the swinging door at the beach
where Mahler wrote that beautiful music,
Death in Venice, the death of our marriage,
our children's hands, thirty fingers,
the fingers in a funeral cortege,
fluttering through the louvres,
Mahler miming the keys on a silent piano,
trying to capture the light.



Linda Rogers's works copyright © to the author.


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