Home > Poetry > Caravaggio in Venice, 1591
Published: Fri Oct 15 2010
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Caravaggio in Venice, 1591

Dazed by light, he wants forever
to wander this city of churches,
garbage, spices, whores, masks.
Labyrinth of bridges that dip into
more twisting alleys, more arcs
of bridge. Grey stone solid under
his feet, the one thing he knows is
there. And water slipping past him,
relentless, sloshing against the pier,
slapping the trim traghetto’s hull,
reaching to lick each palazzo step—
teasing dance of approach, retreat,
and slow sliding embrace. Sex lies
behind each shutter, polishing her
nails. Or transforms into roguish
boy with buttocks of silk. His own
hard-on never flags. Here every
thing is lit with the sensual: pale
vongoli shells on the white plate,
fettucini ashimmer with oil, and
when the night throws its silk
cape over the city, torches send
gold reflections sluicing down
the glossy black of each ripple
of each nameless canal, and he
knows he is eating the dark.

See what's inside AGNI 72

Annie Boutelle is the founder of the Poetry Center at Smith College and teaches in the English Department there. She has published poems in various journals, including The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, AGNI, and Poetry. Her first book of poems is Becoming Bone: Poems on the Life of Celia Thaxter from the University of Arkansas Press. Her second, Nest of Thistles, won the 2005 Samuel French Morse Prize from Northeastern University Press. She is the Grace Hazard Conkling Poet-in-Residence at Smith College. (updated 10/2010)

Back to top