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To Cavafy

I leave the reflection of a constellation
on those paving-stones you tick
off with the tip of your cane as you cross
to the bar where a tanned face can’t wait to
loosen the leather belt I made you. I leave

a broken pitcher so you can
swallow tears, dreaming of the shipwreck
off a nameless coast where, years ago,
a naked boy gave you the taste of salt. I leave

the testimony of whoever
listens with his bones to the underground
river we discovered as youngsters: I leave

the vitreous clarity, the monotonous
obstinacy of water on rock. I leave

the need to be new.

August–September 1999, Faulder Avenue, Auckland


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