In Venice, more than four hundred bridges span the canali, water shimmering beneath them
like endless green tulle. You venture across the city, counting—this one stone, this one wrought
-iron, this one some combinazione. (There are always more, the further you walk.) You must
keep track or risk a strange alley nowhere you predict. Today your count is true. A final turn,
and you reach the Ponte di Rialto, on the border between San Polo and San Marco. You step out
onto a slip crowded with gondolas, trembling and chitinous, sleek like roaches. Your aim: to
photograph the wide, white bridge prophesied for ruin since 1591. A photographer—a real
one—commands you “Affrettate! Spostate! Spostate!” Nothing in Venice moves quickly. You
will hurry out of his way in a moment; the bride and groom must have their backdrop. You snap
your picture, wish “Buona fortuna!” to la sposa, her ruffled gown and veil destined to hem itself
with green this close to the waves. Sudden as a comet, she kisses you on both cheeks, whispers
Mille grazie.” Your shock is short-lived, unlike every structure here; you can’t help but think
you’ve built your own bridge, from wife to wife. You make your way to the entrance of the
seething Rialto, push through the press of bodies to the portico at its center. A flotilla bursts
forth below, tugboats and waterbuses, taxis and flats, emerging like newborns from anxious,
panting mothers. Your glance alights on the bride, still beaming for the camera. Is motherhood
to be her fate, the one bridge you could never cross?

JC Reilly