On a ceiling in Verona


Late winter gloom.  I’m stepping down
an ice-path to the river
like an Incan on his sliver
of Andean terrace (steep, frozen).

Downstream, the dark-eyed Jessie O.
(steamboat captain’s daughter,
was just a child, coming up from below

St. Louis... O Jessie Ophelia...
Cleopatra Desdemona...
Solominka, Marina...
frescoed on a ceiling in Verona-

by-Neva, maybe (in a dream).
& I, only mere boy,
half-yearn... imaginary
Longfellow, flaking off the stream...

Your dark water-crossroads, Pawnee-
Hecate.  Whirlpool
of Eurydice.  School
of Dante’s cinder-journey.  Three

ways, all phosphoric (thundering
falls).  Only to find
that light Diana-mind
Justinian burrowed, for his high welding –

only the lightest spider-thread
from Colchis dawn will do.
For Juliet.  You too,
my child, may skip the tightrope-tread.


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