La Serenissima, in morning light, is beautiful. But you already knew that. Palette of honeyed ochre and ship’s bell bronze, water precisely the color of the hand-ground pigment with which the water of Venice has been painted for centuries, angled slats of aquamarine chopped by wakes to agate, matte
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Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.
It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.
Turtles bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk—
in its solitude we remember ourselves,
dimly, as creatures of mud and starlight.
Clouds and savannahs and horizons,
its emptiness is an antidote, its ink
illuminates the manuscript of the heart.
It is not ours though it is ours
to destroy or preserve, this the kingdom
of otter, kingfisher, alligator, heron.
If the sacred is a river within us, let it flow
like this, serene and magnificent, forever.
Campbell McGrath is the author of ten collections of poetry, including XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century, In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Shannon, and Seven Notebooks. His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.