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  • Kyle Tabone Betts

Òe!

gondola in Venice canal

There’s a hotel in Venice, a quaint little thing just off Piazza San Marco with its first-floor rooms overlooking one of the city’s labyrinthine canals. One of these rooms is set on the furthest side of this canal (this rio, if you will), and its windows open on the corner blindly connecting the canal to its watery neighbor.


If one were to lean far enough over this room’s windowsill and look to the right, a bridge of white stone comes into partial view. But if one were to look directly ahead, as one is apt to do, and if one were to ignore the buildings on the left and the small wooden jetties that serve as a stepping stone between the numerous calling boats and the buildings themselves, or ignore the building on the right, where the green water laps in eternal calmness at the stone steps leading to the wooden door, one would observe the never ending slew of water taxis and gondolas and service boats being oared and propelled above the greenish waters and under the red bridge with white capstones and ring stones and green iron railings. The one that lies dead ahead of this room’s windows.


From these windows I could stare out all morning, watching delivery men transporting fresh produce to the buildings on the left and sometimes chuckling at some poor soul who happens to succumb to physics’ dark humor and suffer the sodden consequences of a badly balanced wooden plank bridging the gap between boat and building.


Later in the day I could entertain myself by spying on the gondolas and their sightseeing passengers, the latter staring in open-eyed and open-mouthed amazement at yet another bridge, this time a red one with white capstones and ring stones and green iron railings, another individual in a canal city of what quickly begins to feel like thousands. Equally entertaining is the sound the gondolier’s voice makes as he announces his presence with an “Òe!” to any of his brethren about to unwittingly sneak up on him before he begins to drift his way through the blind corner between rii, not to mention the little kick he gives the brick walls when the gondola’s stern approaches them a little too much for anyone’s comfort.


And at night I could enjoy the canal’s dark tranquility and the moon’s reflected luster as its light falls on the deserted red bridge with white capstones and ring stones and green iron railings.


But now it is time for me to move out of the room, the one on the first floor overlooking the blind corner between rii. The new guests are about to check-in and hate it when they find me still occupying the room or when I sneak up on them with my own cry of “Òe!”, despite the building having once been my home and this very room having been my bedroom, the one in which I closed my eyes for the final time around four hundred years ago.

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