Venice, Unaccompanied

Waking
on the train, I thought   
we were attacked

            by light:   
chrome-winged birds   
hatching from the lagoon.

            That first day   
the buoys were all   
that made the harbor

            bearable:
pennies sewn into a hemline.   
Later I learned to live in it,

            to walk
through the alien city—
a beekeeper’s habit—

            with fierce light   
clinging to my head and hands.   
Treated as gently as every

            other guest—
each house’s barbed antennae   
trawling for any kind

            of weather—
still I sobbed in a glass box   
on an unswept street

            with the last
few lire ticking like fleas
off my phonecard I’m sorry

            I can’t
stand this, which
one of us do you love?

“Venice, Unaccompanied” copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. From Barter, published by Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.
Source: Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003)
More Poems by Monica Youn