Regrets of Dreams

The old man stood quietly on the bridge across Fondamente Misericordia and looked back towards Castello, the occasional streetlight illuminating pools of yellow in the blackness of the water. To his right, from the direction he’d come, a solitary lamp illuminated the name, 'Campo De Ghetto Novo', and cast an almost perfect reflection of itself, the sign and the corner of the building from which it hung into the canal below. At this time of night, the silent city was constructed almost entirely in shades of yellow and black, interrupted only by red and orange shadows of the lives beyond these stoic walls and a rare flash of bright fluorescent light that pierced the glass above a doorway.   

Venice at night was very different to the city most people saw. By most people, of course, he meant the infestation of frustrated tourists, many from cruise ships, who swarmed through the city in small tribes, selfie sticks held aloft like nets chasing the dragon fly flag that flittered ahead of them in the humid sunshine. Beneath every flag, a guide, usually a woman, would push on, occasionally stopping to make some new absurd observation through the microphone that connected her wirelessly to her people. 

They’d arrive every day between Spring and Autumn, swarming, jostling like ants over the narrow bridges, indifferent to the needs of others, focused only on their most basic needs; a picture of the Bridge of Sighs, and to keep that pennant forever in sight. 

By contrast, Venice at night was always peaceful, even in the heat of June; a quiet ghost that slumbered, awaiting the next onslaught. He wondered if cities dream. Did it, perhaps, in these moments of gentle solitude, relive the heady days of its youth and mourn the passing of time that took with it its real power and energy. Or did it simply rest. 

Venice, he reflected, was like him, alone. It had always been and would always be alone; an island like no other, different, misunderstand, mistaken for extravert and yet isolated and remote from the rest of Italy. It had been born, of course, on the labour of those escaping the mainland; protected by the treacherous mud that obscured the navigable channels. Those dreamers, plagued by disease carrying mosquitos, had stubbornly built upon that same sinking surface, a city for those others who dared, in solitude, to dream. 


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Rod Webb
Apr 28 2022

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Tracy Windross
Apr 28 2022