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La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini (1960)

In a frame or two, Marcello
will turn away, finally having
failed to hear her voice, the angelic
girl beckoning from across
the estuary’s rift in the beach,
etching in the sand the divide
between his world and her world.

Behind him, in that flat expanse
to which he will soon turn, waits
the monstrous ray, decaying
in the sand amid a gathering crowd
of what would seem the similarly perplexed.

Just before turning, he will raise
his hands, he will shrug, surrendering
all hope of hearing what it is
she means to say to him, her voice
eclipsed by surf, blown elsewhere
by ocean breeze. But don’t
look at him. Witness now the sweet
and—as I say—angelic offering
he can no longer hear.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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