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  • Holiday, and: Hospice, and: Venetian, and: Repair, and: Storm King Sculpture Park, and: Prairie Dogs, and: Rescue Parable, and: Old Florida, and: My Father’s Hernia, and: Divers: Dominican Republic
  • Robin Becker (bio)


We slept and woke to the sound of crashing surf. Across the room, my friend lay with her book; I listened to the spacious hour, its humane breath on the room, grown large with distant water.

In that monastic calm we took ourselves lightly, rose and ate, walked the half moon beach and indulged our ankles with bracelets of kelp. Underwater, the day kept fluttering [End Page 29] open, fluttering open— banded butterfly with its eye-concealing stripe, blue angel nibbling on a sponge— and then the boatman put his back to the reef

and returned us to shore, where the afternoon waited palmate, rinsed, thatch-roofed. Day moon overhead, we played chess, long, quiet games, and napped below giant fronds

that fanned us and whispered easy, easy, the way you soothe a high strung mare, so she can drop her head and graze on a long lead— so slack she thinks the groom has set her free.


I wanted to believe in it, the word softer than hospital but still not home

Like any other frame house on the street, it had a lawn, a door, a bell—

Inside, our friend lay, a view of the garden from her room but no lift

to raise her from the bed. A sword, the sun plunged across the cotton blankets.

I wanted dying to be a Mediterranean villa, like the Greek sanatoriums [End Page 30]

where the ancients cared for their sick on airy porticos and verandas

with stone paths that led to libraries. A nurse entered her room and closed the door.

For the alleviation of pain, I praise Morpheus, god of dreams unlocking

the medicine drawer with a simple key, narcotic placed beneath the tongue.

In the hall, the volunteer offered us coffee. How could I think the Mozart we played

to distract her could distract her? Or olive groves, or marble sculpture in the atrium?


For a week, the grandeur and mass of palace façades sloshed in the waters of the Grand Canal, our happiness fugitive as the ornate, shifting

balustrades, oblique, partial. Column, cornice, and fluted pilaster dissolved in wet washes, reappeared as stone basilicas when we looked back.

Our sham Thanksgiving—pasta, on Murano— a glassblower said, Watch out for Chinese importsin island shops. Next morning, you wanted time [End Page 31]

to yourself. I copied Tintoretto’s Creationof the Animals: above bright swordfish and pike, pairs of marsh harriers flock west with God.

Unspeaking, we toured secret synagogues (disguised as apartments) adjoining treacherous guilds and returned to the hotel through alleys where men

opened duffels onto counterfeit Prada bags, fakes identical to those in dressed windows. You bought two for yourself; he vanished into

a Baroque wall. At customs, we had little to declare, one fraudulent strap already loosed from its cheap metal ring, the other, like us, coming apart.


More stall than store, his cramped space on Carmine smelled of Cat’s Paw leather cream polish.

A belt, a boot, our shoes for soles: he restored them, mended your silver heron lamp from Norway; replaced your cracked crystal. He charged so little I wondered how

he paid the rent, a Chekhov character transposed to the West Village, resolving toggle switches, latches, sundered bolts, talking to himself in Russian—jeweler’s eye-piece fixed in his face. [End Page 32]

After the towers fell, the shoe and watch man moved; what we couldn’t repair between us stayed broken.

Seasonal vendors hawked fir and spruce wreaths. A mercantile buzz of commerce dizzied Carmine, where windows of valentines surfaced and disappeared. In restauro read the sign, that spring, on the Church of the Sacred Conversation.

I missed our magician of the material, tried to bring you renovated things from the Used CD Emporium and Bookstore, bazaar of second and third

chances, our New York of the damaged, the irredeemable, beyond repair.

Storm King Sculpture Park

We circled fabricated girders, welded, hoisted, their surfaces scored.

Around us...


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