“Ta Ta Cha Cha”

Listen to Rita Dove reading this poem. One, two—no, five doves scatter before a wingtip’s distracted tread: Lost, lost, they coo, and they’re probably right: It’s Venice, I’m American, besandaled and backpacked, sunk in a bowl of sky trimmed with marbled statuary (slate, snow, ash)— a dazed array, dipped in the moon’s cold palette.

Who, you? No. But here,
lost from a wing, drifts
one pale, italicized
answer. I pick it up
as the bold shoe
continues conversation
(one two) with its mate,
and the nearest scavenger
skips three times
to the side, bobs to pluck
his crackerjack prize, a child’s
dropped gelato cone.

Tip, tap: early warning code
for afternoon rain. Gray
vagabond, buffoon messenger
for grounded lovers—where to?
Teach me this dance
you make, snatching a sweet
from the path of a man
who because he knows
where he’s headed, walks
without seeing, face hidden
by a dirty wingspan
of the daily news.