A thin gold catch like a bee’s stinger—
    but there are no bees in winter—
lost from a necklace of honey-colored beads,
each one globular, size of a swollen knuckle,
bargained for behind San Marco, the box unbuckled
then rebuckled by the proprietor,
    a man discreetly eye shadowed, while the radiator

exhaled tails of steam. Cyclops, the mind needs
    a catalogue for so much minutae, seeds
like black pepper, beaks of marble birds entwined
breathing from a thimble—carved beneath—
of air. The eye drinks it in, its glassine sheath
a studio, permeable to the curate’s show-
    and-tell, his blow-by-blow

explanation of a marble claw’s sly clench: the refined
    grasp of the Pope’s carver who defined
detail only in the difficult
and let grossness be free of improvement:
white whittling might give air and movement
to a bear’s mute paw the bear himself is frozen.
    Still, we were moving, that day having chosen

to light on three churches, leagues apart, the result
    being bad temper, waterlog in an occult
cynosure of canals, a brackish lariat
thrown out across the foam of Venus’s wake,
haunted, grubby, the walkways stone, the sky a lake,
an old eye opening and shutting, its lashes
    eastern, mystic, gilded rehashes