Surely, if the road to heaven is narrow,
it runs through Venice,
through narrow passages of color and water,
crumbling brick and boats bobbing with the tide,
Thursday markets with seafood so fresh it still writhes.
There are tourists to be sure,
but stay a while, walk the ghetto and lost streets
too far away for daytrippers,
wander deep into the city,
let the noise dissolve and the pretend perfection dissipate,
and you find the soul of the place,
corners of heaven the world misses.
You discover the antiquity, unvarnished
and infinitely more difficult, beautifully broken,
Empty cathedrals drip with eternity.
Small shops and cafes with seats left
and waiters without pretense or uniforms
serving coffee, harsh and vibrant.
Colors are bright and faded both
and laundry hangs across the alleys.
This is where your soul lives,
in the narrow places
where you hear the water lap softly on bricks,
where the sun plays peekaboo
and dances in the morning,
where in the distance you hear gondoliers singing
in a language you do not understand,
but understand all too well.
About this poem
If I could find a way to make a living there, I would live in Venice. I have only been once, for a week or so, but it has haunted my soul ever since.