(If you have any, let me know)

I am a substitute teacher in a high school class, a well-disciplined class, reminiscent of my high school except the skeletons. I do not recall bones, bleached and glued on a humanoid tree. Back when I was reading Gone with the Wind and Forever Amber, I could not have imagined reading what I am now: Best American Essays 2010 and deciding which electronic reader to buy.

The notebook I grabbed on the way out the door is the one from my last trip to Italy. Notes from an interview: In Venice, winter is magical, empty, and Carnavale is not as wild as New Orleans.

Have I finally outgrown New Orleans, it’s funky, musty rooms? Café DuMonde, walking through cemeteries to a jazz beat?  I miss the gumbo, the occult, but Rue Royale lacks Venice’s elegant decadence, serpentine lagoons, and damp bridges arching over moldering secrets. Despite Anne Rice, Venice has a more macabre literary legacy than New Orleans:  Death in Venice, the Comfort of Strangers. These works are all the more creepy, because their fictional characters could be walking across St. Mark’s right now plotting suicide and murder.

There was no Confraternity of Pitiful Virgins in Venice as in Rome. Venice simply turned its girl orphans into elegant whores. I could not have been an elegant whore. I’d fall into canals, slip on cobblestones, giggle at pretentious nobility. I imagine being shackled and pushed across the Bridge of Sighs, condemned for a passionate adultery with the husband of a doge’s daughter. I never think things through to their bad end.

And so I preside over an anatomy class where skeletons rattle in a climate controlled breeze and my teenage self dreams of Medieval England and courtly love and spring meadows where a knight rides on tomorrow’s grass. She writes a skeleton of a sonnet about one caress releasing all the fragrance of spring into a bell jar that keeps fancy fresh or dried depending on the flow of serotonin she once called hope.

Sextus says there may be no truths, only moments of clarity, passing for answers.


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2 Responses to “CLARITY”

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