Early in the morning, the vendors come,
the fishermen come,
the butchers come.
The farmers too, arrive, and early,
before the town awakes,
they set their wares on tables
in corners, under green awnings,
never in the sun where the Mediterainian sun
can dry their fresh offerings.
By mid-morning the market seethes
with locals and tourists alike, hungry
for something rare and fresh.
Here, the fishmonger cuts his filets.
Here, the butcher carves still bleeding beef.
Here, there are lemons from Pompei,
oranges from Spain, and grapes,
rescued from the winemaker in nearby Tuscany.
You walk through the crowd,
a stranger here,
not just to this place,
but to this celebration of freshness,
of now, of things so new
and so fragile that as soon as tomorrow
they will be a sorry memory of themselves.
You choose and orange
and peel it.
You bite into it’s supple flesh and
its juice drips down your chin,
fragrant and powerful,
the taste and smell fills your senses
and for a moment you are lost.
This is what it means to live,
to be lost in the perfection of the moment.
Never mind that by nightfall,
this place will be abandoned for another week.
Never mind that this abundance,
the things not chosen,
will shrivel and die.
For this moment, you are in a perfect place,
and more importantly, you are aware
of its perfection and your place in it.
Your eyes take in the marketplace
with its colors and strangeness.
The taste of orange lingers on your tongue,
and you wipe the remnants of juice off your chin.
Across the market, a fishmonger sings opera.
You have, you believe,
than you ever imagined.
About this poem.
Regular readers know. I love Venice. A week in a place and it lives in you forever, calling to you. I do not think I have ever felt as alive as I did that one week.
Why? I cannot say. Some things just are. It’s like being in love, and almost as powerful.