An artwork in three panels
Photographic Triptych, Venice – Steven John, 2018
Points in the air
A funeral procession moved through the narrow, cobblestone streets of Burano. Four men carried the coffin on their shoulders. They were followed by people wearing mourning black. I would have you for another ten years. I didn’t know. The Italian winter light was brighter, warmer, than we expected. We removed our coats. The sky blue, endless, and church bells tolled slowly, on and on. The flat-faced houses—red, yellow, green, pink. Shops displayed delicate lacework—punto in aria. We didn’t buy any. The shops were empty, the island deserted, the procession taking everyone to wherever they bury their dead.
Across the Venetian Lagoon was Venice, grey-blue, hazy. They were shadowy figures—the domes of St Mark’s Basilica, the spike of the Campanile. And somewhere there, seeming so far away, our hotel, our suitcases, our bed.
We walked along Burano’s main canal, the Terranova Sestiere, and it rose above us—the leaning bell tower of the Church of San Martino. The lean caused by land subsidence. I felt the ground sink beneath our feet and I reached for you. You put your arm around my shoulder and said, Dizzy?The air smelled of the sea and we did too.
On the vaporetto taking us back to Venice, a blind couple sat with two guide dogs before them, lying on the floor in the sun. One dog was black, the other blonde. You were transfixed by those dogs.
The blind couple kissed and I thought of Rodin’s “The Kiss”—maybe because we saw the sculpture only the week before at the Musée Rodin in Paris, because of their equally closed, unseeing eyes, because this kiss was also whole-hearted and certain.
I leaned into you and wanted it—your hand on my hip, my arm around your neck, power and surrender.
Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, Superstition Review, Forge Literary Magazine, and matchbook, among others. Her story “It falls” (Jellyfish Review) was chosen by Aimee Bender for Best Small Fictions 2018. Three of her stories were chosen by Dan Chaon for Best Microfictions 2019. She lives in Australia. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.
Fiction & Special Features Editor – Steven John