In part to verify a date, and in part just to pass the time, last night I picked up a volume of Ptolemaic inscriptions and began reading. Those endless poems of praise and flattery all sound the same. All the men are brilliant, great and good, mighty benefactors; most wise in all their undertakings. The same for the women of the dynasty, all the Berenices and Cleopatras, wonderful, each and every one. When I managed to find the date in question, I'd have put the book aside had a brief mention of King Caesarion, an insignificant note really, not suddenly caught my eye... Ah, there you stood, with that vague charm of yours. And since history has devoted just a few lines to you, I had more freedom to fashion you in my mind's eye... I made you handsome, capable of deep feeling. My art gave your face an appealing, dreamlike beauty. In fact, I imagined you so vividly last night, that when my lamp went out—I let it go out on purpose— I actually thought you had come into my room; you were there, standing before me, just as you would have looked in defeated Alexandria, pale and tired, ideal in your sorrow, still hoping for mercy from those vicious men who kept on whispering 'too many Caesars.'
The Next Table
He can't be more than twenty-two.
And yet I'm certain it was at least that many years ago
that I enjoyed the very same body.
This isn't some erotic fantasy.
I've only just come into the casino
and there hasn't been time enough to drink.
I tell you, that's the very same body I once enjoyed.
And if I can't recall precisely where—that means nothing.
Now that he's sitting there at the next table,
I recognize each of his movements—and beneath his clothes
I see those beloved, naked limbs again.