Synaesthesia Magazine Cities - Page 93

I sit on the edge of the canal, touch the little mirror and flash a beam of sunshine onto the closed shutters of the old palace on the other side. Lapping water liquefying the crumbling stone, the slime-line of weed, the howl of decay and pirouette of mortality – Venice, a forest of gilded stone supported by dreams. I study the picture of the Virgin Mary on the back of the mirror. A white veil, a faded, red heart on her blue shift, she’s holding up a finger. A warning perhaps.

It’s a peaceful alley, dark except for this shaft of sunshine. I glimpse, in the distance through the ravine of old buildings, Isola di San Michele, the cemetery island. I flash the mirror into the gap but it dissolves into the glare of the sun. And then, blood orange accordion music bounces between the buildings and a cavalcade of gondolas sweeps past, bumper to bumper, laden with American tourists. The musician squeezes his accordion while the last gondolier sings ‘Volare’. I kiss the red heart.

I met Lilia in Giardini. She was sitting on a rock, smoking in the shade of a plane tree outside the British pavilion. Her skinny, curved back turned as if she knew she was being watched and her nipples showed like pinpoints through the thin grey t-shirt. A rim of a girl, a ragged edge of a lettuce leaf. I was handing out pamphlets for the show, sending people clockwise round the exhibition. When a man in a leather hat sat on the steps of the French pavilion, she slung an old canvas bag over her shoulder, climbed our steps and threw her fag on the ground.

“Welcome to the British pavilion. Would you like an information sheet?” It’s the spiel.

“They say you have tea.” Her accent was strong but probably better than my Italian and she had small, crooked teeth, top and bottom.

“Tea? At the back.” I gestured the clockwise direction.

“You want to show me?” Her eyes shifted from side to side, over my shoulder, out the door so I wondered if she meant me and looked behind. But she didn’t move.

“Delighted,” I said.


by Amanda Oosthuizen