A bottle of prosecco greeted usin La Calcina, our front room with a viewof the wide canal, the island of Giudecca.John Ruskin’s room was right next door to ours,but we fared better on our honeymoon.His pheromones were triggered by the Gothicarches and foils, not hardcore fleshinessof a real woman with real body hair,his wedding surprise, while ours got us in troublewe couldn’t resist, artists and models bothwho plunged into romantic complications,years of my dithering, a legal sloughwe likened to the slow process in Bleak House.
But when we made love, that first afternoon,feeling a sea breeze, hearing the boats and waves,each other’s odalisques, we were incensedthat baggage handlers or airport securityinspected our vibrator so hard it broke.It hummed like a power drill but didn’t shimmy.It figured, since our love affair and friendshiphad always been tempestuous, not calm.
She needed medicine, so I took a walk,looking for the nearest farmacia,but the shop at San Trovaso wasn’t open.I kept on looking for green neon crosses,stopping on bridges, gazing at canalswhere someone sloshed a mop on a boat’s deckand workers hoisted paving stones from barges.
Near Byron’s palace on the Grand Canal,blue screens kept off the cruising paparazziwho trolled in boats, lusting for a shotof Angelina Jolie. But my LaWandaraged at the arrogance of stardom, sworeshe’d never see The Tourist, in productionwhile we were honeymooning in the city.I said I’d never pay to see the movie,but still, it was a record of our stay,and if we could ignore the silly thrillerit might become a kind of photo album:sunny nostalgia, tinged with a bitter edge. [End Page 130]
Scornful of cars, I didn’t want to sullyour honeymoon by going to the Lido,but she insisted we couldn’t miss the beach,sorry it wasn’t warm enough to swim.We took a bus—after the waterbus—and got off at the Grand Hotel des Bains,closed for the season, despite the ghosts of Mannand Aschenbach. We walked past the cabanasand men who were playing soccer on the beachso she could wade in the Adriatic Sea.I knew how wrong I’d been to discourage herfrom joy that made her radiant as the wave tipsdizzy with sunlight, cresting with tidal surges.Love wasn’t rigid but resilient,open to change, eager to divorceanything impeding its energy.
The whole time we were there, she wouldn’t visita single church, despite the Tintorettos,but wouldn’t miss the shrine of Harry’s Bar,savoring martinis, popping olivesin our mouths. The high point of the tripcame when the suave proprietor, named for the bar,approached from behind, holding her chair to helpher from the table—Arrigo Ciprianismiling and flirting with my vibrant bride. [End Page 131]
John Drury is the author of three books of poetry: The Refugee Camp, Burning the Aspern Papers, and The Disappearing Town. He has also written The Poetry Dictionary and Creating Poetry. New poems have appeared recently in Gettysburg Review, Baltimore Review, Ascent, and The Journal. He teaches at the University of Cincinnati.