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Watermarks

by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi


The old Italian bills made you feel rich,
large as miniatures,
muted colors, scenes
with intricate watermarks.
Held up to the light,
in the days when show
was not for everyone’s eyes,
like love, there
the real face appeared.

On the money: Buonarroti
with his boxer’s nose; underneath,
or inside, or between:
David’s head, a mirror
against counterfeiting.
False, a serious word.
All the zeros on the bills
made money seem ridiculous,
but like love, when illuminated,

it went a long way.
There was not so much of it flowing;
work modestly paid, but like love,
consequent,
the attraction to have and to keep.
Beautiful,
kisses avid for
the real face. Money, imagine
checking it by light.

 

Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, an American poet, lives in Parma, Italy. For more than thirty years, her poetry has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Notre Dame Review, The Southern Review, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. In 2013 she published The Other Side of the Tiber (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), her second book of nonfiction, and a novel, Toscanelli’s Ray (Cadmus Editions). A collection of her essays has been translated into Italian. (2/2015)


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