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Maria Lisella

La Nebbia Veneziana [Fog In Venice]

Robed and twice-twined
with the plush terry cloth robe
that came with my posh room,
I dress for the steaming pool
on this chilly winter night.

The first night of Carnevale in Venice
Beyond this mineral bath
children run among the shadows
with red capes, devils’ horns,
men wear three-cornered hats
as they do in Rigoletto
and women press bulbous breasts
above lace bodices and jeweled skirts.

I can barely see the pool
the fog is so thick
the steam heady – the odor
of boiled eggs rising.

The fog never touches me,
never settles on any surface
swift as a breath,
steam without the fear of heat,
a mist that leaves shadows in the spotlight.

I part the steam with each movement.
It folds over me, behind me,
protects me from the cold night air,
from the light, from the eyes
of the other solitary swimmer.

I hear the water
part in lopsided movements.
Not synchronized,
but in jagged intervals.
He is passing me.
He is invisible.

I would like to ask him to swim in silence,
to make no waves in this temple of steam.