"Dog Days of Summer"
By Meena Alexander
In the dog days of summer as muslin curls on its own heat
And crickets cry in the black walnut tree
The wind lifts up my life
And sets it some distance from where it was.
Still Marco Polo Airport wore me out,
I slept in a plastic chair, took the water taxi.
Early, too early the voices of children
Mimicking the clatter in the Internet café
In Campo Santo Stefano in a place of black coffee
Bordellos of verse, bony accolades of joy,
Saint Stephen stooped over a cross,
A dog licking his heel, blood drops from a sign
By the church wall-Anarchia è ordine-
The refugee from Istria gathers up nails.
She will cobble together a gondola with bits of driftwood
Cast off the shores of the hunger-bitten Adriatic.
In wind off the lagoon,
A child hops in numbered squares, back and forth, back and forth,
Cap on his head, rhymes cool as bone in his mouth.
Whose child is he?
No one will answer me.
Voices from the music academy pour into sunlight
That strikes the malarial wealth of empire,
Dreams of an old man in terrible heat,
Hands bound with coarse cloth, tethered to a scaffold,
Still painting waves on the walls of the Palazzo Ducale.