When my mother said Let’s go down to the Rialto
it never occurred to me that the name Rialto 

was odd or from anywhere else or meant anything
other than Rialto the theatre in my hometown 

like the Orpheum, whose name was only a phoneme
with no trace of the god of Poetry, though

later I would learn about him and about the bridge 
and realize that gods and bridges can fly invisibly 

across the ocean and change their shapes and land
in one’s hometown and go on living there

until it’s time to fly again and start all over 
as a perfectly clean phoneme in the heads
of the innocent and the open 
on their way to the Ritz.

From How to Be Perfect by Ron Padgett. Copyright © 2007 by Ron Padgett. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher.