Tuned to the scale of A, each of the five bells in the Campanile
may ring at once: the Marangona signal the workmen to stop,
the Trottiera and the Mezza Terza urge the horses to hurry the elders
to Doge’s Palace, and the Nona confuses everyone:
it’s midday now, for centuries.
Galileo aims the first telescope across the piazza to ships
in the harbor. An acrobat descends a tightrope down
the tower to the loggia— pigeons poise
on the head of a marbled virgin.
Maybe you stood here
as I did: once, twice, a thousand times— air bright, spackled with semblances.
Maybe you saw the Campanile crumble, then resurrect: a newsreel
spun on forward. Maybe you will be here
when the sea level rises, water not abating.
Venice, my lagoon: deep & inward—
Maybe you will rise over the ochre rooftops, past the Basilica, your face overlaid
with a million faces. All the antiquities drown, the eternal breaking,
shuddering to that last doomed bell sounding:
—the smallest: the Renghiera—
evil deed: mark our execution.