Winter 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 2000 |

Venice Despoiled by Time

Still merchant seaman, still whore! There comes a point where you make us pay to go any further, even in church. So much to lift the skirt, so much to see the Byzantine booty behind the high altar. Saints from the east, trapped in fligree, eye the son of God as he enters the city. The ass picks its way through precious stones, lest the stones cry out, toward the temple, not shown, and the money-changers, the sellers of sacrificial doves. Saint John smiles down on emeralds under the cross. Past ruby, topaz, sapphire chased in gold—O Constantinople, one stone not left upon another after three days' looting by the Crusaders, once the flames had died! And they brought horses and mules into Hagia Sophia, the better to carry off the holy vessels. And when some slipped and fell, they ran them through with their swords— that the Army of God might pay you for the ships. So there came to you the arm of the martyr Stephen, some of the flesh of Saint Paul, the Baptist's

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DEBORA GREGER’s most recent book of poetry is Western Art, published by Penguin in fall 2004.

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Still merchant seaman, still whore! There comes a point where you make us pay to go any further, even in church. So much to lift the skirt, so much to […]

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