11 July 2010


(Photo from Photo Dictionary)

Along the campo, Manin’s bronze winged lion prowled
among the tanned intruders, licking their hands.
Pools of iridescent shellfish
lay open in the restaurant window,

a shop of otherworldly opals, the mussels’ sheen
the skies of a closed heaven, crabs flat on their backs,
their armor intricate trapped plates and escapements.
The squid slumped in its own ink, the octopus appalled

in its slime. Many and ingenious are the postures of death.
But look! There, in a corner, beneath a willowware plate,
a lone crab clicked its claws, creeping
over a casket of walleyed fish,

through a valley of oysters keeping their counsel,
only to shift warily under the shadow of a wine bottle.
Which saint, O saints, watches over the saintly crab?
The man of forks and spears, the man of arrows?

In the Ca’ d’Oro, the stiffened Sebastian takes
each arrow through his flesh like a skewer.
He wears a little napkin around his middle.
Saint, watch over the fragile boat of the runaway crab.

Let him steal his way back to the green lagoon,
go floating down the Grand Canal on his own motoscafo.
Let him take second life, a later martyrdom.
Let him wave his bent claws in a mockery of farewell,

lest we eat in his hollow shell his captive meat.
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