We came here more than twenty five years ago
but know when we reach the Trei Archi bridge
we have gone too far and turn. (Distracted by
a young black man begging with a baseball cap
we had walked passed the sottoporto
where the curfew gates had been). We see
a man in a keppel show the entrance
to his children. Inside the Old Ghetto now
are information points, and a café
and a restaurant with kosher options.
In the New Ghetto’s spacious campo
are more eateries, and an accordionist
panhandling alfresco customers.
Stone benches have been placed, shade trees planted.
A patrol of three armed soldiers passes.
There is a generic memorial
to the Holocaust, and one to the transports
from the ghetto, the last including the sick
and the dying. Though the Doge et al
chose to believe Jews were as one there were
many languages and five synagogues
– three Ashkenazi, two Sephardi.
All waterways led to Venice, all winds
were fortunate for this cosmopolis.
Distant cousins of mine might have crossed
these pavings, disappeared into the fire.
A waitress blows a kiss to one of the soldiers,
the youngest, as they patrol again.
I think of the Prague Ghetto, its graveyard,
its leaning grave markers dotted with small stones.
Though we are never far from the sea
there are no pebbles here.
AshkenaziHolocaustJewsNew GhettoOld GhettoPrague GhettoSephardiTre ArchiVenice