The Venetian Debate

“We’ve gone past that same gondola stand three times.” I’m certain because against the brick are the same two unused poles that match the black prison stripes on the gondoliers’ sweaty t-shirts. Tourism petrified by the pandemic; the service people of Venice stiffen.

“Our stand is that way, I’m sure of it.”

Vapors from a half-full vaporetto cough against the current, swirling pollution in reverse before the water bus bounces against the loading barge. Without cruise ships to raise profits and tides, Venice sinks less this year into the Adriatic Sea.

 When we stop below a banner with a cruise ship crossed-out to ask for directions, a Venetian tells us, “The grand canal is a question mark, and crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end,” leaving us to navigate the labyrinth of waterways and worries on our own.

© khartless 2021, All Rights Reserved

“Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”
–from Jo Harjo’s “A Map to the Next World.”

Merril is tonight’s host for dVerse’ Prosery. The task: write a piece of flash fiction or other prose of up to or exactly 144 words, including the given line.


  1. Nice exotic location to set your story, K. Never considered this before:
    “Without cruise ships to raise profits and tides, Venice sinks less this year into the Adriatic Sea.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m having my last breakfast here this morning. High tensions about reopening tourism fully here; but so much fun getting lost around the city and lost in the sights.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re in Venice! You lucky thing. And in my experience at the best time – when there are no other tourists. Great descriptions and clever way to incorporate the quote.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am waving to you from across the Bay of Trieste! I really wanted to go and visit Venice again while it is still quiet, because I hate tourist traps! I think we will have to visit soon. Love where you went with the prompt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ingrid. Remains about 50% as the locals are totally split on whether they want cruise ships back. We would love to stay longer and soak up the art, history, and different islands. The children much enjoyed sonic you go, I’ll be sure to send all
      Our child friendly finds. 👋 waving back and goodbye to Venice today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure because this was my first time. The locals tell us the streets are less clogged, the canal is much clearer, but financially, it’s very tough for the tourist industry (most of the industry).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Venice….this has been my dream to see for many years. During this pandemic year, we’d planned a cruise (I know: conundrum – provides money from tourists but really not good for the environment, etc) — but the point is, we’d reserved a place to stay a week after….to just enjoy the city and meander. My hope is to do this sometime in the next few years…not via a cruise ship at all.
    Good use of the prompt.
    What a joy it must have been to be there when it is so quiet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you will be able to visit soon, Lillian. I am already missing the city’s gentle sway. The people there are very split on the ships. They are thinking to dock the ships further out so they do not enter the canal, and then increase the efficiency of the travel from the mainland. I think this would be a perfect compromise, allowing tourists into the city, so I hope they do just that. It’s also hard to see people suffer because their livelihood has been taken away. Part of the beauty of the city is in the people, and they are decreasing so rapidly-I think they told us it was 145,00 in the 1970’s to below 60,000 now. (sorry, I somehow didn’t see your message sooner). Thanks for reading and connecting.


    1. It’s so calm but we are told almost eerie. This great debate has really divided the Venetian people-those against cruise ships vs. those wanting the tourism to return full force. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  5. This is incredibly powerful! 💝💝 I enjoyed the glimpse into Venice and the seamless manner in which you incorporated the given line “The grand canal is a question mark, and crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.” Must, must visit one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how you took the prompt to use literally. And how lovely to be in Venice! I was only there briefly years ago with daughter part of a Latin Club high school trip, but it is such a beautiful, fascinating place. I think we were there before the cruise industry became such a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I saw the prompt and decided to write even after a long day. I have lots of snippets in my journal from the stay, so hopefully more Venetian verse will emerge on my site. It’s a city I would return to given a chance (and I’m not one for big repeat trips).

      Liked by 1 person

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