BETWEEN FRIENDS (© Words by Paul F. Cowlan)

It was late one winterís night in mid November,
and Iíd been walking the bridges of San Marco.
Walking and walking. You know my habit.
No-one was about.

But in the Piazzetta, as the clock struck four, I turned,
feeling something rise against the sky behind me.
You may believe this, or not.
I simply tell you what I saw.

An arch-eyed diva loomed over the city,
breathing up from the Laguna while everyone slept.

I canít describe her.
I hadnít time to think,
and if she noticed me she gave no sign of it,
for she was lifting the houses, each in turn;
so gently not a dream was shaken out.

Churches, palaces, mansions.
The Basilica itself,
and the Palazzo Ducale;
even the huge, Amazonian breast of della Salute.

Her touch was so light there was never a ripple,
though I could hear the drip of water as she held each one aloft,
scanning the patched causeway of alder stocks beneath it.
Patting one stave, twisting another,
soothing every corner of the aching needle-bed of Venice.
Setting the buildings down again onto their ancient stilts.

I swear to you, this was what I saw.
Though the clocks never faltered;
and the moon showed no interest,
idling a bright gondola up from the Lido over a sea of glass.

Then, having massaged every ache and wrinkle of this impenitent old city,
suddenly she was gone.
Leaving only the moon and her wake of Leonids;
and not a fingerprint to support my story.

I tell you this only because we are old friends,
and I know you will not repeat it.
Now pass me the wine.
It is your turn to share a secret.