The water is the dumped perfume of five hundred years, lavender and Chanel, though she smells better. The boy and girl of the story are alone at a Vaporetto stop, the lagoon a muted spectrum of pigeon feathers. The boy’s eyes are the wet blue of back cover cologne advertisements, his ears iced with imitation stones to show how far he plans to be from his current means. His face is sharpening to hardness, lupine teeth charming even leaning in, like the viscous current, his hair black glistening, spiked sideburns, a single drip of aquavit sweat following the line of his jaw. The girl is three-quarters back to me, summer freckles brushed over her nose, hair as dark as his except where it’s folded in with brunette, her tanned legs drawing away from a short black dress, planted on the jetty, what light there is under the smoked glass overhang on the back of her thighs, the careless hairs.
She’s leaving; he’s not ready to let her go. Sections of her curls are breezed free, she tucks them behind her left ear, he her right, his watch wide as the bottom of a beer bottle and ringed in rhinestones, a smile working its way towards her ear. He shouts a question at the ferryman. I can’t understand the answer but it’s probably that there’s always another one coming, this dusk of aranciata and blood, the thick ropes connecting boat to dock come undone, the canal is a swirl of gasoline, ciao regazzi, her thumb running where his bicep meets bone, the sunset about to light us on fire, his hand at her cheek as we jerk away, her soft features, shining hair touched now with that red American woman forever fail to duplicate, he’s laughing, she left to meet him in a rush, the blue shampoo bottle balanced on the bathroom windowsill, the lingering wave at her temple catching reflections across the canal, she leans, the shampoo bottle leans, it smells of citrus, her balance is perfect, my wobbling ankles rock on the deck, she lifts one foot and wraps it around the back of his knee he buckles into her, the lap of water, shy bubbles of saliva in her teeth, languid jaguar eyes and the power of her jaws working green mint Vivident, he comes whispering into her neck, she laughs hand to mouth, I bob away, she drops her gum on the rotting wood, a black lizard tattoo stretches from triceps to elbow, to the same razor point as his sideburns, the animal on his other arm lost in the shadows, he has a cut on the inside of the thumb and she’s kissing it.
The blades of the motor slice the water and in the eddy I see her first grey hair, her dropped hips in a house dress, the messy bristles of the broom standing on the tiles inside the front door, “It Never Entered My Mind” on the radio, his glass of orange juice and worn cuffs folded up four times, the thick black and white beard down his neck, the faded iguana green ink diffuse over his arm. The proud bridge of his nose, the rheumy water of his eyes as they cast back over Venice.