We do not see her but she pours
diverse waters into one small bowl.
Skull craft of Byzantine alchemy
remembered by a drunk Venetian
whose box of chalks ran out of sidewalks
and he sleeps, dreaming of her again
as he always has. Marco Nolo, ‘I do not
want,’ Carlo Crivelli, most secret of all
painters, I set foot in that lagoon
at my peril. Alchemy, not art, he said
and I said tauromachy, as in Krete,
slim girl swings over bull horns
by natural dexterity. Alchemy is water,
art is wine. O stop trying to sway me,
memory is propaganda enough. She
has heard this stuff for years, likes it
a little, sound the rippling water says
echoing from the cave behind. Strange
how few birds there are in alchemy,
mummy of a crocodile hung in the roof.
The magpie and the robin and the eagle,
they came along with her and flew away
so now they are ours. And we are hers.