venice poem

by Emily Alexander

i am sweating, & have been since
                                                             france. the fabric pressed
against my lower back is damp, but unnoticed
                                                                                    among the small unnoticings
of strangers photographing the light of venice as it slips
                                                                                                     into the river. i feel up
walls just to touch
                                   some kind of skin, & i’m lost again, leaking
around corners & trying not to ache
                                                                for my own home’s small evening
glow. i suppose this
                                    is what people write postcards about, wish you
were here,
& here i am, pushing
                                                               pen into paper so hard
it cuts through. lately i float on trains,
                                                                     float across cobble stone, i float
into museums alone, & fail to find
                                                               another word for float. groundless, even
in my own mouth, so balancing
                                                          on this city’s teeth is damn near
impossible, but at a yellow
                                                 walled restaurant, i eat spaghetti, calamari,
mussels like little hearts, as my own
                                                                  opens, closes, drifts towards
wheat fields & a boy
                                      despite this low-slung sun. it fills
the cracks in these small halls. i should hold this
                                                                                         better or give it to someone
who could. it’s embarrassing
                                                     to miss anything
as much as i miss him
                                          & the small way we drink coffee
together—foam in his beard & i brush it out.
                                                                               venice now,
& my ankles wobble guilty
                                                  on streets i don’t want
to keep, & i love him like not everything is lost,
                                                                                        i love him
like a map’s clear you are
in red, right where it’s supposed to be.