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Jo'Burg Days: A Postcard From Venice

Barbara Durlacher's poem is as rich and colourful as the city in which it is set.

If you were here, my darling, we would drift the canals in a gondola, and
Watch the sun dip behind the Saluté,
Sip an aperitif at St Mark’s Florian’s while a hundred bells toll at noon, and
Feed the pigeons in ‘the greatest drawing room in Europe’
Under the friendly stare of the wingéd lion.

I would give you a courtesan’s handmade golden mask,
aigrette feathers waving on your brow, and
Buy you delicate gloves in the finest of leathers.
Drape you in damask and chinese silks, while we
Search for a rare Fortuny gown, folded and pressed in miniature pleats
Supple as silk to drape your slender body in the elegance of a by-gone age.

Visit the fish-market to hear the banter of the locals,
as they haggle for the sea-creatures from the lagoon; then
Mark the stately cruise liners drifting across the bottle-green sea,
As the moto-scarfi fuss up and down the Grand Canal.

Stroll the winding streets, fingers interlinked as we cross the humpbacked bridges.
Watch a funeral barge decked in golden ormolu
Speed to cypress fingered San Giorgio for the service for the dead.
Then picture you against the Doge’s palace, outlined in marble and gold.

Catch a boat across the shimmering waters to dinner at Torcello’s Cipriani,
Find images of medieval mosaics still vivid on the wall.
Where a hornéd red devil forked sinners into the flaming pit,
and the godly rose to the arms of St Peter.

Returning in the splendour of the sunset.


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