Argos’ Vision of Kavafy

The Hebrew מגדלית is pronounced Magdalit

Pharos flared at sunset and Isis, prophetess,
glowed golden in the sky over the harbor.
The sinuous Nubian serving-girl started as a colt,
gasped, spilled arak on my linen.

A man, or form of a man wavered in the gloom
at the tavern door. The ignorant Nubians fled,
all but my favorite, the pale, sad and quiet one.
She stood her ground.

The semblance at the door? A thing with ringed eyes,
eyes of a frog or a fly glowing ruddy
as water in a cup at sunset; a foolish hat,
a rigid roof with eaves; round his neck
a colored belt; his barbarous coat, unbelted,
open like a sack.

Worse, he was wholly transluscent; his frail torso,
material but disembodied, showed beneath the fabric;
only the bones of his fingers moved, elegantly
as an alabaster dancer. But for the prissy mustache
and ridiculous clothing, he might have been a delicate
Greek or Jewish girl.

I, Argos of Alexandria, derider of superstition
and gullibility, turned my face to my flowery lattice,
to my view of women in the street, to the harbor, Pharos,
and fading Isis.

An owl swept low; a prophecy shrouded my mind.
Behold, the poet of the city.

My favorite’s name was Greek. She too
might have been a delicate Greek or Jew,
or both. She filled my glass, her cheek and breast
and odor near my senses.

I asked her name. “Μαγδαληνή. מגדלית”

The apparition faded. The last I saw were the eyes.
Frog’s eyes, glowing, staring at me, at the girl.
I judged then, if he was a spirit,
he came not from among the dead;
he came from the unborn future.
 
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2012