Rialto Invisible in this cheap night scene of the familiar bridge the lives - the lies - we lived on both sides of the canal, invisible the water's stench at low tide, the rotting debris beneath the picture-perfect surface, invisible the adjacent market still smelling of fish and ammonia, its slime of scales adorning the ground, invisible, too, in this souvenir print, the inevitable rat crouched under the pilaster, his throat quivering benignly in the moonlight, the silvery glow a local specialty: filth disguised as ornament. To Forget Venice is the improbable challenge and the title of Peg Boyers's newest collection of poems. The site of several unforgettable years of her adolescence, the place she has returned to more frequently than any other, the city of Venice is both adored and reviled by the speakers in this varied and unconventionally polyphonic work.
The voices we hear in these poems belong not only to characters like the mother of Tadzio (think Death in Venice), or the companion of Vladimir Ilych Lenin, or the Victorian prophet John Ruskin and his wife, Effie, but also to wall moss, and sand, and - most especially - an authorial speaker who in 1965, at age thirteen, landed in Venice and never quite recovered from the formative experiences that shaped her there. Ranging over several stages of a life that features adolescent heartbreak and betrayal, marriage and children, friendship and loss, the book insistently addresses the author's desire to get to the bottom of her obsession with a place that has imprinted itself so profoundly on her consciousness.