Eighth Day

I would like an eighth day every week,
a day between Tuesday and Wednesday,
a day with no claims on it.

My alarm would not be set,
but I would wake early, dress quickly,
add two books to my backpack,
and step through the oak door
at the bottom of the stairs,
the oak door that was not there
the night before.

I would step through the door
into Venice:
a narrow street beside a canal,
the light catching on small waves,
a gull eyeing me from its perch
atop a wooden pole.

I would step through the door
into Venice,
away from the laundry, the bills,
the things I ought to do, but don't want to,
away from my own cantankerousness.
I would buy an olive scone, still warm,
from the first bakery I came to,
sit down on the stones
with the scone and my books.

No one would phone me.
I would not check my email.

I would split the day
between reading and walking—
would walk for miles,
admiring the old buildings,
the paintwork on their facades
cracked by age and damp,
wondering why I find them
so beautiful.

I would step through the doors
of my books into other cities,
other people's stories,
then come back to Venice for lunch:
tagliatelle with tomato pesto,
a white cloth on the table,
the waitress tolerant
of my fragmented Italian.

If it rained,
I would wander art galleries,
or go into a church,
stare at statues carved,
centuries ago, in faith and love.

In the evening,
I would stroll past
the pillared colonnades,
the brick bell tower,
and someone would call my name,
an old friend I hadn't thought
I'd ever see again,
or my father,
returned to me for one night,
camera hanging from his neck,
a map in his hand.

We would stay up late.
We would walk side by side
beneath the patterned stars.

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