Sunday, 7 April 2013

Thoughts in the Cavafy Museum in Alex, seeing two yellow candles set into the outer corners of the desk he used when he was alive OR I have always wanted to write a poem with a very specific and long title, like those far eastern titles longer than the haikus they head

Cavafy's desk with candles

There are no visitors, none; just us three
the house is a flat up dark flights of stairs
and sure, the marble plaques and busts are there
but the guard’s surprise is also plain to see
a few pounds for adults, children go in free
the guide’s dutiful, “that’s his desk and chair,
he spoke five languages,” the love-affairs
glossed over. Decorously perfunctory.

The sensuous poems that this man produced
written on that desk, after he had finished
the day’s work; two candles still on both sides
cheesy drips running down like tears all used
up in solid wax; some books, no manuscripts;
the windows empty, blinded by sunlight.


Both the bigger deals, and loose change as well,
come untitled, jingle in pockets of life
unnoticed for all the sporadic hype
at the intercepts of temples and brothels.
Would he have agreed to the show and tell
to display objects used, stereotypes
based on his use of the pen, and penknife?
on wax drips kept as is on two candles?
Journeys matter much more than journeys’ end
he wrote that once, and now his spirit’s gone
from these rooms for exactly eighty years.
I can’t find him, but climbing these darkened
stairs; candle meltdowns, cast as if in stone,
hardened wax shows why I must stop here.

Cavafy  was a poet of Greek descent who lived and worked in Alexandria, his residence is now a museum dedicated to his works.  Ithaca is a very well-known poem, his canon is here online.


  1. That is a compelling poem. the second half took my breath away. Excellent writing.

    1. Thank you for reading and the feedback. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Every line tells the story of the great poet's journey. Beautiful poem

    1. Great to see you here. Thanks for stopping by, esp in the middle of what must be a busy week!Best wishes for the rest of it.