Near the Campo Aponal, on My Father’s Birthday

By David Brendan Hopes

Featured Art: A Rocky Coast by William Trost Richards

De Sandro’s café with the orange tablecloths
wades into the one stone street
without tourists, all the Venetians pushing
their big delivery carts at first of morning.
From what I understand of it,
the shouting is voluble,
happy, glad to be alive, almost never
without reference to anatomy.

Nine years after your death it is still your birthday.
I’m treating you to cappuccino and showing off
my lacework of Italian.
Ecco, I cry, pointing to the beautiful faces,
the beautiful things.

Everything was outlandish to you. Nothing is to me.
In that way balance is achieved across the long years.

But I think you would like these people.
They would pull out the orange chairs, sit down,
listen to what you have to say. You would be old
and wise in a city old and wise, and that would be
enough.

I’d better think of something else before the mood
turns heavy and hard to carry over the Rialto Bridge
with the shops just opening.
All those selfie-taking children,
all that brightness bearing down.

Happy birthday, I want to say,
from the last place on earth, where the earth dissolves
and the crazy towers lean out over
watching for what comes—sinuous, flowing,
unexpected—next.


David Brendan Hopes, whose last poem in NOR was selected for Best American Poetry 2017, lives in Asheville, NC, where he is a professor of English at UNCA. His prize-winning novel The Falls of the Wyona is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.

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