watering the plant on my bookshelf
I water too much
the overflow brims the terra cotta base then
spills skimming most spines but Cavafy
takes a bath
as if after a night of debauchery
or after a night of hiding
from a lover sought.
the pages are wavy at least from the
binding halfway out so
the gutters have wingspans
the ends of lines
the dark streets of Alexandria
watermarked by a double loneliness
the delicate grit of pleasure enmeshed in the
paper wrinkled before its time
the pages stuck together momentarily
like a desperate parting kiss

watering again a week later
I water too much
and Cavafy takes the hit again
the first time I could call it poetry
the second time I admit
I’m just careless
tending to life

I might do less reading
bandaging of shoulders
CHAEL NEEDLE teaches writing at Medgar Evers College/CUNY in Brooklyn. He is also managing editor of A&U: America's AIDS Magazine. His poetry has appeared in bottle rockets and Owen Wister Review.