Venice Evening


Have you ever used music as a starting point for poetry ? Don’t use songs- you’ll get hung up on the words- try something instrumental. Music and poetry have rhythm and ambiguity in common, so you often find all sorts of unexpected pictures taking shape in your mind.

I’ve always liked Vivaldi’s Four Seasons- it was the first piece of classical music which really touched me. It’s very pictorial, almost blowsy in places, but I like its neatness and precision as well, and I used it as a writing prompt for two linked poems which tell a coherent ( I hope) story.

Here’s the first- the second will go up in a day or two.

An apricot light beyond the open windows,
the smell of perfume, rosin, sweat.
Heels click back and forth
on a wooden floor, chairs scrape.
The swaying cello sheds notes heavy
as the drops hanging in her ears,soft
as her powdered cheek.
Marsala in a Venice glass; starched petticoats
and clever fingers, sliding curtain rings.
And after
waking to feel her breath against my skin,
her tiny movements, like a sleeping cat.
And later
outside, black water laps the landing stage,
footsteps, quiet curses, the splash of oars.
Musicians going home, and she with them.
The pattering of rats behind the plaster.
A dog howls in the shadowed courtyard.
Beyond the window
Dawn pales like a bruise.


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