Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Orpheus in the Harbor

Kuno Raeber
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 86, No. 1 (Spring 2012)

There’s nothing here
that you’d absolutely have to have seen:
I don’t like it here for the monuments:
but because of the hours
where you’re deeper in Venice
than even on the Rialto:

On the hostel’s hill,
your ear sharpened to the tune of stars
ringing over the harbor—
even if too far off, so the cold cries
of the blowtorches from the docks over the water
wouldn’t sharpen and grow.

Don’t cling to my arm:
don’t be afraid
when you see the huge face white between the ships,
its mouth open,
gone dumb and as if asleep.
Don’t be afraid, because a secret
stream floated it toward you even in this remote harbor:

you may ever flee cities and harbors,
I think it’ll always find you again.
So look past it, and just climb the hill:
from there it’s simply only the moon,
modestly with stars, if you only wish it,
lying there among the ships in the basin:
don’t be afraid.

translated by Stuart Friebert