Venice, Unaccompanied, by Monica Youn

Waking
on the train, I thought
we were attacked
 

            by light:
chrome-winged birds
hatching from the lagoon.
 

            That first day
the buoys were all
that made the harbor
 

            bearable:
pennies sewn into a hemline.
Later I learned to live in it,
 

            to walk
through the alien city—
a beekeeper's habit—
 

            with fierce light
clinging to my head and hands.
Treated as gently as every
 

            other guest—
each house's barbed antennae
trawling for any kind
 

            of weather—
still I sobbed in a glass box
on an unswept street
 

            with the last
few lire ticking like fleas
off my phonecard I'm sorry
 

            I can't
stand this, which
one of us do you love?

A Happy Birthday, by Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.