‘A camera on a tripod stood at the edge of the water, apparently abandoned; its black cloth snapped in the freshening wind.’
DEATH IN VENICE Thomas Mann
…Cholera is no longer a rumour.
Besotted, face rouged, hair dyed, he dies
staring unseeing at the shallow sea.
Artifice, made and re-made, fades in the rain,
like the islands with their ‘gorgeous palaces’…
Near the Palazzo del Cinema –
where, annually, insubstantial
figures, louder than life, larger, love
and loathe, kill and die in the watching dark –
along the Lido’s Adriatic shore
is the empty Grande Hôtel Des Bains,
gates locked, windows shuttered, paint flaking.
On the hotel’s liveried vaporetto,
Thomas and Katia Mann took their friend,
Gustav Mahler, across the lagoon,
past St Marks, along the Grand Canal
to Santa Lucia station. He wept
as he boarded the train for Vienna.
He had seen Tadzio.