Although elsewhere they must compete with tall men
from Senegal selling faux Gucchi bags
and middle aged Roma women hunched like
supplicants as they beg with their cardboard cups,
short, slight Bangladeshi men of all ages
have cornered the market, on the always
crowded bridge, with selfie sticks, lovers’ locks
that illegally litter the rails, and a cache
of small umbrellas for wet, cruising tourists.
South is the church of La Salute with its
whorls, bell towers, domes – a votive offering
for the city’s surviving pestilence.
North is Ca’ Rezzonico where Browning wrote
In A Gondola – ‘The moth’s kiss, first!…
The bee’s kiss, now!’ A young couple stands
at the top where the locks are bunched tightest.
She has finger puppets – two mice, hers and his,
enjoying the view. He smiles lovingly.
She turns them to face each other – and speaks.
‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’