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Volponetta by Basiliké Pappa


Under this bridge, brides are sent to find lost rings.

Have you not heard? It takes a life to calm the water.

I’d rather be woman, not lore—I’ll never marry a master builder.

So if they ask you to build a church, tell them to ask someone else.

It’s a long fall down from the dome. Do you not know?

You hit the ground, turn to stone—but I want you man, not legend.

The Reigning City is no good.

Why make liquid fire to serve the empire

if you can follow the sunset on water—free at last.

No coin, but no despot either.

Let’s go to Venice,

don’t think it too much.

Cakes taste sweeter when snatched from a usurer’s hands.

Let’s take a ship to Venice.

We’ll have to learn to run fast,

sleep under the stars if we don’t cheat in cards.

We’ll take up juggling with golden balls.

Under the windows of bankers we’ll do it with skulls

to scare them; down they’ll go, off the social ladder.

I’ll tie tin suns around my hips; as a ghaziya, to galloping zills

I’ll dance at the square, stealing their heart

as you steal their purse.

And on a night like this, we’ll wed belladonna to henbane. Pour the mix

into the cisterns; then wait for the revelry to burst forth, clear as water.

No garments, no disguises either.

Let’s sail to Venice,

right through the brushstrokes of Michel Cheval.

We’ll laugh longer and last when we escape the guards.

Don’t think it too much: better to flee

than serve; why live and die a loyal wife, a sensible worker?

Let’s not grow old—only out of order.

Say yes—we’ll do as we please;

before it’s time to return to the seas,

we’ll know how it feels to run free at last, like water.

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