• 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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