Constantine P. Cavafy (29 April 1863 – 29 April 1933 / Alexandria)
Lovely White Flowers
He went inside the cafe where they used to sit together.
It was here, three months ago, that his friend told him:
'We're completely broke -so hard up, the two of us,
that we're stuck with the cheapest places.
I can't go around with you any more -it's no use hiding the fact.
I've got to tell you, somebody else is after me.'
The 'somebody else' had promised him two suits, some silk handkerchiefs.
He himself, to get his friend back,
went through hell rounding up twenty pounds.
His friend came back to him for the twenty pounds-
but along with that, for their old intimacy,
their old love, for the deep feeling between them.
The 'somebody else' was a liar, a real bum:
he'd ordered only one suit for his friend,
and that under pressure, after much begging.
But now he doesn't want the suits any longer,
he doesn't want the silk handkerchiefs at all,
or twenty pounds, or twenty piastres even.
Sunday they buried him, at ten in the morning.
Sunday they buried him, almost a week ago.
He laid flowers on his cheap coffin,
lovely white flowers, very much in keeping
with his beauty, his twenty-two years.
When he went to the cafe that evening
he happened to have some vital business there
to that same cafe where they used to go together,
it was a knife in his heart,
that dead cafe where they used to go together.
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