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FOOD & TRAVEL

Southern Cross (Stavros Tou Notou)

In the nor-wester the waves boiled;
we were both bent over the map.
You turned and told me how in March
youd be in other latitudes.

A Chinese tatoo drawn on your chest;
however you burn it, it wont come off.
They said that you had loved her once
in a sudden fit of blackest fever.

Keeping watch by a barren cape
and the Southern Cross behind the braces.
Youre holding coral worry-beads
and chewing bitter coffee beans.

I took a line on Alpha Centaurus
with the azimuth compass one night at sea.
You told me in a deathly voice:
Beware of the stars of Southern skies.

Another time from that same sky
you took lessons for three whole months
with the captains mulatto girl
in how to navigate at night.

In some shopin Nosy Be
you bought the knife – two shillings it cost –
right on the equator, exactly at noon;
it glittered like a lighthouse beam.

Down on the shores of Africa
for some years now youve been asleep.
You dont remember the lighthouse now
or the delicious Sunday sweet.

Nikos Kavvadias (1910-75)

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