Like Dante, Looking
Beatrice wrings her sleeve on the threshold. Beatrice squints at the ceiling as she kneels, imagines she’s a bird in the rafters, shifts her mind to the bird’s eye-view— all the bald men, small as baby dolls. She digs her thumbnail into the pew, leaving graves for the eyelashes of saints. When she sings the litany, she can feel them looking. Outside, rain runs the streets to the Arno, shores dirt from construction at the walls of the Duomo, stains a cobblestone someone will carve to look like Dante, looking. The sun breaks through—dries the bricks that builders pried off one façade to make another. In July, in any bit of shade, a dozen people hide. Beatrice has taken ill. Somebody skimped on her chapel— anywhere you stand you can be seen.