Memory Room

By Davide Trame

In a house on the edges of Venice,
by the lagoon, where the city’s last square stones
hardly covered the mud,
on a pageant of ripples
and the crenellated walls of the Ship’s Arsenal.
The large window faced a kitchen garden,
rows of vegetables in sandbar silence,
my parents’ bed was boundless,
there I was ill, confined,
a sick child swimming in sleep in a sea
of white sheets.
Mornings were ages and I was quietly
swallowed in pillows, embracing them,
riding silences like whales.
On the bedside table a radio announced
temperatures from the airports in a roll
of names linked to their cities, words like beads,
mantras droning on furniture and walls
bathed in the rising kitchen garden light,
my forehead cool at last
after sweating the night’s coals.

And the day outside, the enduring horizon,
the afternoon body temperature
rising like a tide—
and a peddler’s voice that rose, soared
in an arc of sky syllables, shaping words
as meaningless to me as luminous,
in which distances could be embraced and shone.
I was imagining a cart passing
filled to the brim with clanking tools and gears,
ladles, pans, forks and knives, ore
silhouetted in the haze
of the lagoon shore.

In that boundless bed by the window,
facing rows of vegetables like a continent’s creases.
The sunlight’s voice outside announcing
its golden goods.
I was ill
and confined in timelessness.

Davide Trame is an Italian teacher of English who lives in Venice. His poems have appeared in literary magazines in the United Kingdom and the United States, and his collection Re-Emerging was published online in 2006 by Gatto Books.

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