Why come to Venice? The young woman asks.
I answer in lines – their time may have passed.
As a child, half a world away
I floated in a black canoe, it sank in high water.
The lagoon swells at monsoon time and floods the Ghetto.
All the pepper of Muziris cannot buy their freedom or mine,
And painted pottery exchanged for monkeys
Or chattering peacocks cannot distill sorrow.
A fish with rainbow fins is swimming in a fountain,
It has swallowed the ring of remembrance.
This Kalidasa knew,
Dreaming of a high room by the Accademia bridge
That holds Sakuntala, still sleeping.
A bird, with feathers the color of jasmine
Has made its nest in the timbers of that bridge.
There I see a man, face painted white
A yellow star pinned to his chest,
Staring into water.
He too is part of this earthly theatre.
No one must see him weeping.