Venus in Naples

Ange Mlinko

Winter 2019

Here where the various Venuses gather
—you know the types: one kind
posing with a dolphin or a scallop shell,
another gyring to look at her behind,
another a more modest bather,
crossing her arms—a church bell

coincides with the approach of sirens,
pitting emergency against eternity;
and the sand is cinders and glitter,
the source of which everyone can see
towering over the environs:
the volcano, that arch-depositor

of new earth over old. As if a sapphire
beckoned with an aquamarine finger,
one wave and the Venus undoing her sandal
leaps up, on the beach of hot clinker,
walking barefoot to a blue that will suspire
into the sky with a hiss of scandal.

As if the sand weren’t hot enough,
the city streets are paved with lava flags,
and as if a volcano did not suffice,
fireworks branch like cave-paint stags
jumping in brief bursts above the roof,
almost nightly, fizzling out in paradise.

Ange Mlinko teaches at the University of Florida. Her most recent poetry collection is Distant Mandate.

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