Cavafy's Double Helix

by Con Chapman

The store was closing for good, and so I purchased a book of poems by Cavafy,
that poet of ruins and tombstones, and fragments from disintegration.

In some cases they recalled a double helix, two strands coiled around an axis.
He led a double life, clerk by day, Captain of Pleasure by night,
bemoaning a beautiful boy of whom no statue was made before he died,
and another, consigned to a grim shop, never to taste the pleasures of the city.

He lived upstairs from a whore house, across from a church, down the street
from a hospital—poised between flesh, forgiveness and death, he said.
The bookstore is being picked clean, like the rotting carcass of an animal
on the road by carrion birds. I can only imagine his lust for young men

like himself, their legs entwined like his columns of broken lines, like ruins.
Cavafy died at age 70 to the day, neatly completing his three score and ten.
He loved discreetly, knowing the stigma there is in scandal, laconic to the end.