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The Klyde Robinson Poetry Prize

Thomas Johnson

Lunching with Cavafy: List

Lunching with Cavafy

The girls have all gone south

to Charleston for the day, beneath

their ears a dab of scent like honeysuckle

from the fence.  Around their necks

they wear those metal tabs with who

they are, including blood type, all

spelled out in case of accident.

In case the final question for their

freedom is, Who must be notified?

Leaving it for Rainbow Row,

the Dock Street play, a walk along

the Battery, then shrimp and grits,

why would they ever think of home,

and getting back or not?  They know,

and I, exactly in whose time

and place they live—which city, state,

and country: mirth, forgetfulness, rebirth.

Alone at lunch I find Cavafy’s

poem “Harbor” and meet Emes,

that young sailor lost forever,

always living in the hearts

of parents left behind.  To be

remembered also in the souls

of those whose children somehow manage

to get back home alive.

Lunching with Cavafy: Text
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