Sandy heat of summer
each putrid grain imbedded in sweat:
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
that summer night in 1966,
the Istrian stone gleaming
pure under the stars.
keep me silent—
to Iago’s god I pray:
keep father safe in Sumatra
with no one to lead him
to the Venetian light.