I get home before the Greek and get back into town before
he’s even had a chance to wrap his gift or for his flight from Kalamata to land.
I find a place to drink and watch the evening as it bruises to the colour of a Kalamata olive
and the fist of the city batters dusk black and blue.
When his flight gets in the Greek is beat and trudges down Catharine Street to find me,
remembering a year when the same street teemed with angry Herostratuses,
when the police cleared away the ashes of the Racquet Club
and found the charred body of a deer covering a sleeping woman.
I meet the Greek outside the crumbling ruins of St Andrew’s on Rodney Street
and notice how he keeps glancing at the few stars the city’s glow hasn’t obscured.
As we walk home I wonder if the Greek is still waiting for Betelgeuse to explode
but he doesn’t even notice the swan sleeping in the closed door of St Philip Neri.
Later as he pours wine the Greek tells me he did see the sleeping bird
but insists it was one of the city’s cormorants freed of its stone prison.
After dinner the Greek quotes Cavafy to me as I fall asleep in his arms
and tells me how he imagines Cavafy having a slight Scouse twang.
Throughout the night the Greek teaches me to recite the poem back.
By morning our exertions have me hungry for breakfast but the Greek won’t let me eat,
he says there are other meals in the day to think of and in times as hard as these
some meals must be abandoned until even their names are forgotten,
until not even the Greek can remember the hunger of morning.
The Greek is convinced that forgetting is the only way to cope with austerity.
I tell him that at least words never cost anyone a drachma,
that he should eat because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
Before he leaves the Greek laughs at me and hands me my present.
When I am alone I unwrap it and let those who are hidden inside take what they can.