“Dawn had broken when he said: ‘Sire, now I have told you about all the cities I know.’
‘There is still one of which you never speak.’
Marco Polo bowed his head.
‘Venice,’ the Khan said.
Marco smiled. ‘What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?’
The emperor did not turn a hair. ‘And yet I have never heard you mention that name.’
And Polo said: ‘Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.’
‘When I ask you about other cities, I want to hear about them. And about Venice, when I ask you about Venice.’
‘To distinguish the other cities’ qualities, I must speak of a first city that remains implicit. For me it is Venice.’
‘You should then begin each tale of your travels from the departure, describing Venice as it is, all of it, not omitting anything you remember of it.’
The lake’s surface was barely wrinkled; the copper reflection of the ancient palace of the Sung was shattered into sparkling glints like floating leaves.
‘Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,’ Polo said. ‘Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.’”
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino