• 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’s most recent collection of poetry is Distant Mandate (2017). She is a professor of English at the University of Florida. 

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