A Propos Cavafy
When love is on its way to the stairs
a bit heated and suitably lost in its own thoughts,
the poet bends down to lift from the floor a bloodied scarf
and presses it to his lips.
She draws in through his nostrils the scent of smoky wood
And he goes to his desk, lights the lamp
and writes a few lines.
Then he shoves the pages under the blotter,
blows out the lamp and goes off to sleep.
It is half an hour past midnight.
Angels descend from neon-glowing bell-towers,
pale but victorious they throw off their clothes
and plunge their swords deep into the church steps.
When the taxi stops at the traffic light, they open
all four invisible doors and crouch down on the roof
and the back seat.
That night we speak sentences
and the books on the shelves lose names and chapters
and once more turn into paper,
they babble on, and the wind grabs hold of them,
the gulls come fetch them for their schreeching flock.
You are so dark I can barely see you in this light:
the rim of the cloud is embellished, silvery,
the shadow of a candle stretches from the balconyt railing
across to the park
and walks there, back and forth, back and forth,
its heart bent towards the sconce, when you take my hand invisible
instruments emerge from their cases,
the Chinese glockenspiel is fully tuned
after a thousand heavy years,
the branch of a plumtree is dug up from the ground and
planted again in the sand and it grows, the empress is pleased,
I touch the cherished ring
(on its walls words climb and swoosh like wild vines,
the margins of chronicles are becoming filled).
we reach for the fruit
and then I see your birthmark.
What must a poet do, when love is making its way to the stairs
(now that words, dawdling, reach to the spare room,
when paper is still only paper and there is very little time)
when he takes from his memory a fragment of shoulder
and puts it in its place under a sentence.
How the car gets a gold-embellished helmet and wings,
how the angel happily blows its horn and with red cheeks
and the driver collects his cash for the day and falls asleep
before his dreams
in his little bed on the edge of town.
But restless spirits pace back and foth in their rooms,
one as a torso with hair on both sides of its neck,
the other, on the wing of a dream airplane, a wrench in its
hand, throws doubt and gravitation overboard -
when morning comes,
above the city floats dew or fog
full of color, it is still there,
thin veil of lips bound up at both ends of memory.