Constantinos Cavafis, 1910
Approximated from the Greek by Steven Heighton
You said, “I will go to another country, another shore,
find a distant city better than my own.
All I attempt here is destined to ruin
and my heart, like a corpse, lies buried.
How long will my mind here mark time, wearied,
decayed? Wherever I turn, wherever I gaze:
the black debris of my life in this place
where I killed so much time: years squandered and soured.”
You will find no other country, no other shore—
the city will follow you. You will wander the same
streets and enclaves, aging, in these self-same
rooms fading slowly to pale. Your escape will end
every time in this place. Don’t hope for some other land—
there’s no ship out for you, no road away. As you’ve wasted
your life here, in this small corner, you’ve destroyed it
everywhere else in the world.
Steven Heighton’s [photo credit: Anna Robertson] most recent books are the Trillium Award finalist The Dead Are More Visible (stories) and Workbook, a collection of memos and fragmentary essays. His 2005 novel, Afterlands, appeared in six countries, was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, and was a best of year choice in ten publications in Canada, the USA, and the UK. His short fiction and poetry have received four gold and one silver National Magazine Awards and have appeared in London Review of Books, Best English Stories, Best American Poetry, Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, Poetry, Brick, TLR, New England Review, Modern Canadian Poetry, and five editions of Best Canadian Stories. Heighton has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and Britain’s W.H. Smith Award, and he is a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan