April 16th

by Ann Pedone

Arrived late last night: Hotel Mercurio

I am red: I stink of heat

In this city:none of the girls are allowed outside

E’tutto finito

Reason produces sleep: but sleep produces no reason

At the cafe across the square, a young man came up to me
said that during the Middle Ages 
the priests here would burn coffee to conceal the smell of death

:but I am deathless

Ezra Pound invaded Italy. Ended up at St. Elizabeth’s
Hospital, room 224: nothing was ever explained to him:
slept every night on a pillow made of numbers 
and goat hair. When he returned to Italy: 

died under a blanket of suns

That was the last step in an unnatural descent: 
not a way to alleviate sorrow
just the origin of memory
at least the version told by the Greeks

Last night my husband sat on the floor: cross-
legged like a school girl 
I lay in bed eating fat rendered from the dead:
my body warm under the sheets

This is Venice: a city that follows the rules 
of misdirection: like a woman who doesn’t know 
what to do with all of her holes.

I have spent the last four years standing
in a stranger’s doorway 
enjoying the resistance
then the sirens stopped
the air smelled like mild surprise.
The women of the market 
have told me: in cases like mine, any god will do.

About the Author

Ann is the author of The Medea Notebooks (spring, 2023 Etruscan Press), and The Italian Professor’s Wife (spring, 2022 Press 53), as well as the chapbooks The Bird Happened, perhaps there is a sky we don’t know: a re-imagining of sappho, Everywhere You Put Your Mouth, and DREAM/WORK. Her work has recently appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Narrative, Chicago Quarterly Review, Carve Magazine, and Juked. Ann has a degree in English from Bard College and an MA in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley.