The sunlight burned like wire on the water, that morning the ghost ship drove upriver. The only witness was a Jersey cow. Florid and testy, a miniature industrialist, the steam tug spouted its fiery plume of smoke, and on the bank the dead trout lolled, beyond the reach of the fishermen now. From a distance the fish lay sprawled like sailors after a great sea battle, the masts and spars splintered like matchsticks on the water; the mist hovering over inlets, cannon-smoke drifting off the now-purple, now-green bloom of river. In shadow a train inched across a brick viaduct ruling the still-dark valley, as aqueducts once bullied the dawn campagna. The cows resented the Cincinnatus patriot, knowing they too were bred for slaughter. The morning was a painting: the battered warship hung with dawn lights like a chestful of medals, the barren canvas of the Thames, empty out of respect, the steam tug beetling to the breaker's yard. The sun lay on the horizon like a vegetable.
From Macbeth in Venice by William Logan. Copyright © 2003 by William Logan. Reprinted by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.