Afternoon in Siena

—After Cavafy

Soon I will know this room.
It will have become familiar.
Then sometime after I’ve left
they’ll rent it to another writer
or student, a couple on holiday
for a long weekend.
For now I’ll try to fix it in my mind,
this ordinary room with its cold
tile floor without a rug,
the low chair and ugly wardrobe
with its foxed glass,
the shuttered windows that open
onto the narrow street where
in the evening a small dog yaps
and yelps beneath the washing line,
the purple canopy of wisteria.
And in the corner, of course,
the messy bed, where in another life
we might have made love –
the afternoon sun
bathing us in liquid light –
if only I knew who you were.

by Sue Hubbard