THE SHOULDER DRESSING
He said he banged into a wall… or fell down.
There was no doubt some other reason
for his wound, his bandaged shoulder.
With a quick, violent reach
—up to a shelf to bring down a few
photographs he wanted to see up close—
the dressing unraveled, and some blood flowed.
So I re-bandaged his shoulder, and while bandaging
I lingered because it wasn’t hurting him
and I had pleasure in seeing his blood. Something
of my love, that blood was.
When he left I found down in front of the chair,
a bloody shred among the linen bandages,
a shred from the waste it would be.
That I took to my lips,
there I kept it a good long while—
the blood of love on my lips.
Ο ΔΕΜΕΝΟΣ ΩΜΟΣ
Εἶπε ποὺ χτύπησε σὲ τοῖχον ἢ ποὺ ἔπεσε.
Μὰ πιθανὸν ἡ αἰτία νἆταν ἄλλη
τοῦ πληγωμένου καὶ δεμένου ὤμου.
Μὲ μιὰ κομμάτι βίαιη κίνησιν,
ἀπ᾽ ἕνα ράφι γιὰ νὰ καταιβάσει κάτι
φωτογραφίες ποὺ ἤθελε νὰ δεῖ ἀπὸ κοντά,
λύθηκεν ὁ ἐπίδεσμος κ᾽ ἔτρεξε λίγο αἷμα.
Ξανάδεσα τὸν ὦμο, καὶ στὸ δέσιμο
ἀργοῦσα κάπως· γιατὶ δὲν πονοῦσε,
καὶ μ᾽ ἄρεζε νὰ βλέπω τὸ αἷμα. Πρᾶγμα
τοῦ ἔρωτός μου τὸ αἷμα ἐκεῖνο ἦταν.
Σὰν ἔφυγε ηὗρα στὴν καρέγλα ἐμπρός,
ἔνα κουρέλλι ματωμένο, ἀπ᾽ τὰ πανιά,
κουρέλλι ποὺ ἔμοιαζε γιὰ τὰ σκουπίδια κατ᾽ εὐθείαν·
καὶ ποὺ στὰ χείλη μου τὸ πῆρα ἐγώ,
καὶ ποὺ τὸ φύλαξα ὥρα πολλὴ —
τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἔρωτος στὰ χεἰλη μου ἐπάνω.
ON THE STAIRS
As I descended those notorious stairs,
you entered at the door, and for a second
I saw your unfamiliar face, and you mine.
I hid so you wouldn’t see me again, and you
passed quickly with your face turned away
and sidled into that notorious house
where you could not have found your pleasure, nor I mine.
Yet the sex you wanted, I had to give you;
the sex I wanted—your eyes told mine,
your tired, observing eyes—you had to give me.
Our bodies, sensing, searching;
our blood and skin could tell.
But both shaken, we hid from ourselves.
Τὴν ἄτιμη τὴν σκάλα σὰν κατέβαινα,
ἀπὸ τὴν πόρτα ἔμπαινες, καὶ μιὰ στιγμὴ
εἶδα τὸ ἄγνωστό σου πρόσωπο καὶ μὲ εἶδες.
Ἔπειτα κρύφθηκα νὰ μὴ μὲ ξαναδῆς, καὶ σὺ
πέρασες γρήγορα τὸ πρόσωπό σου κρύβωντας,
καὶ χώθηκες στὸ ἄτομο τὸ σπὶτι μὲσα
ὅπου τὴν ἡδονὴ δὲν θἆβρες, καθὼς δὲν τὴν βρῆκα.
Κι᾽ ὅμως τὸν ἔρωτα ποὺ ἤθελεσ τὸν εἶχα nὰ στὸν δώσο·
τὸν ἔρωτα ποὺ ἤθελα — τὰ μάτια σου μὲ τὦπαν
τὰ κουρασμένα καὶ ὕποπτα — εἶχες νὰ μὲ τὸν δώσης.
Τὰ σώματά μας αἰσθαντῆκαν καὶ γυρεύονταν·
τὸ αἷμα καὶ τὸ δέρμα μας ἐνόησαν.
Ἀλλὰ κρυφήκαμε κ᾽ οἱ δυό ταραγμένοι.
CONSTANTINE P. CAVAFY, born in 1863, lived most of his rather private life in Alexandria, Egypt, dying there in 1933. He spent much of his childhood in England; later, in Alexandria, working as a mid-level government manager in the Egyptian (but British-run) Ministry Of Public Works for 30 years. He never published a book, preferring to give friends his poems in pamphlet, booklet, or stapled form. The first book of his collected work was published in 1935.
CONSTANTINE CONTOGENIS’s collection Ikaros
HOWARD SKRILL is an artist and educator living in Brooklyn with his wife. The monuments he recorded in 2021 have been transformed in recent years by hammers, chisels, markers, spray paint, and plastic wrap, or brought down entirely by lassos and cranes. Works from the series have been exhibited by Terrain and Fairfield and incorporated into his autobiographical essay “Death Wish.”