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The Roof of the World

Venice under siege in the dead of winter. A cordon of feudal armies, agile as disdain, awaits the signal to attack: they are pursuing the frontiers of a certain inexplicable region, something so fragile that -- they say -- it becomes the whore of the invisible. The Venetians swarm like ants, enlist to return the insult in the heart of battle. In the midst of this tumult, I take a child by the hand, lead him to the dock, and we lie in a gondola looking up at the sky. From there, we can follow the mute wind, the unintentional heartbeat of the city, the fever of the frozen lagoon, horses riding through the cemetery toward Mestre and too, farther on, warriors who line the banks like crows, their black silk banners flaming like hordes of a sinister mutiny. Ah, the sky is a mirror. And the scene an ecstatic dance, undespoiled in its beauty.

“Something wants to fail without a trace,” I say. “Form is the masquerade of time.”

Then we remain, the boy and I, pondering the pathways of the stars.


1994, Maria Negroni. Translation 1997, Anne Twitty.

ARCHIPELAGO Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1997

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