Wednesday, December 15, 2010

They Will Take My Island

by Claire Caldwell

After the tourists left, we made a map of Venice
with black licorice. It snowed that year, and our father
painted dead fish in the markets. We took turns
trailing feral cats and ladies draped in winter furs.

The canal slithered past the cobblestones, sleek
as a silver chain. Mother cursed the water
in her bones. My brother built forts for his
glass animals, too young still for the cartoleria
where the man with marbled eyelids told fortunes.

I delivered his ink on Sundays. He stamped my feet
before reading their soles. Our island won't sink
if it's sailing,
he'd say every time. I chose to believe him.