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Scirocco: Otello in Venice

Sandy heat of summer

each putrid grain imbedded in sweat:

no breeze

in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale

where mother’s perfume almost obliterates

the Venetian stench. Powdered and scented, we ready

for the open-air opera, my mother and I, and Mario,

poised between us

as winds and strings intimate

the coming storm

and stage lights crash over the grand marble staircase

inaugurating the season of deceit.

In the dark Mario’s expert fingers

forage in the folds of mother’s skirt.

Cymbals and drums confirm it all.

We follow the moor who in his innocence

believes himself a cuckold but is not

while my father in his innocence

trusts and is betrayed.

I am evil

          because I am a man

sings Iago

that summer night in 1966,

the Istrian stone gleaming

pure under the stars.

        Dio crudel,

keep me silent—

to Iago’s god I pray:

        keep father safe in Sumatra

with no one to lead him

        to the Venetian light.