The End of the Cruiseocene in Venice a work in progress I Only now we wonder – why did we let them stay, let them stay so long? I think they hypnotized us. We watched as if this island were a flickering screen on Saturday night when horror is at home. The monster slays the dewiest girl, the one everyone wants to make love to. And we watched, even through spreadeagled fingers, we couldn’t stop watching when steel creatures slew the grace of this city, this city still dewy after a thousand yearning years, this city everyone wants to make love in. Do we want the monster to take her because we know that she’s too good for us? Did the clever keepers of the carnivore-fleets grasp this masochismo mondiale – our weakness for watching beauty done away with – and sink their maws in it? This city, made so perfectly to the measure of a woman that a woman may walk as if upon water and the cruise ships made so frightfully to the measure of a monster to defile her. II This is what grows, if it grows without reverence, tenderness or irony: a brute bucket you christen the Poesia, the Deliziosa, the Melody, or the Rhapsody of the Seas – and grows and grows, for Carnival, Celebrity, Caribbean & Costa sent ships-of-prey Into Venice’s soft waters, with their great white snouts and seeping bowels of chemical darkness, let them salt-sicken her bricks and spike her air with poison plumes, tremble her foundations, churn up the slattern shame of industry in her sediment. The keepers of these gruesome zoos denied their Serena, Luminosa and Splendida could plant tumults in the lungs of Venetians or defects in their embryos. MSC, Disney, Norwegian, P&O & Co & Co & Co made ships of grosser tonnage, greater grotesqueries of luxury and more mellifluous names – fatuous sonnets of ships: the Fantasia, the Preziosa – morbid anatomies of bloat, both boats and boaters, the Fascinosa, the Symphony, the Grandiosa and the Enchanted Princess gobbling more & more horizon until the only unspoiled vista was the one their passengers paid for. High above San Marco, the new cash crusaders – garish mayflies to Venetian eyes on shore – cowered from this sick city’s beauty, not quite safe from it. The beauty was so strong they made contact not with the naked eyeball but sheltered and shuttered by lenses. Snap, own-brand, post, Venice, done.
III This, if you’re a city, is how it feels to be Me-too-ed and maltrattata. Not even Napoleon showed Venice such dry contempt as the Liberty, Anthem and Ovation. This is how it feels to be stripped, stared down and shamed until your corpus, dispossessed of all its private places, grows outlandish, unfriendly even to itself. Everyone wanted a piece: as if this city were here only to be pretty for passing behemoths. The keepers of the Divina, the Bellissima, the Virtuosa – they deployed the usual defence: She wanted it, oh she was begging for the money, and she took it, lying down.’ IV The cruise ships died slowly, decreto by sanzione. It took a pandemic to render them extinct on planet Venice. And yet. And yet they never died, the dinosaurs: they lizard on in birds. Watch the robin hop. See his armoured toe. He could open the blood of your eye with it. Don’t forget the cruise ships hovering on the edge of the lagoon – lustful, hungry, just one corrupt blind eye, one deft hand, one deep pocket, one mayor away from prey. NOTE
The cruise ship situation continues to evolve in Venice – as will this poem, in response. MICHELLE LOVRIC