Poetry

Dispatch #060

3 Poems

The Routine of Space

by Angela Costi

Honour the time not made from the list of work

nor the menu of food nor the drama of screen

nor the soaping of fear nor the ping of crowds.

This is the time before we will imitate sleep

when the blue of the day makes love

to the sleek spell of dark,

when yearning holds your hand

like a friend about to ask you out.

Each step in that time

grows from toddler to elder

becomes a funeral, then a birth

as your body, no longer plastered by walls,

is wedded to the silk of expanse.

This is the time your street is the comfort

of broth when fevered,

the cars are settled in their curbsides

as the giant eucalyptus and myrtle bask

in the light of the one lamp,

smiling through its cracked gaze.

Each house you pass opens its eyelid

to show specks of colour and shade,

the quaking of internal rivers,

undercurrents of mood,

how one shadow can morph

into body and back to

one, two, three flows of dance,

as you pass

clothes spill from a wardrobe,

a computer beams its alien glare,

a shelf touts spines of escape,

offerings of floating echoes,

of life in pose as you pass

becoming your life.

You pace to the gravitational pull

of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

old, young, big, small, bold, shy

encounters enclosed

yet seeping entanglements

into the breath

of night’s air.

The Daily Commute

by Angela Costi

I.

Up till 15 March 2020

This train carried a marketplace of colour and language,

it was the variety of skin from deep-texting black

to the open call of brown, and my skin

with its comments on weather and work

was there, as not-quite-white with the moles and freckles

colliding into a marriage of Mediterranean sun.

We sat uncaged, could touch each other’s shoulder,

smell the accent of breakfast, the craving for lunch.

Remember Anisa Zahidee, not quite 30 with two degrees 

and a bag full of books, Hidayet Ceylan knew her,

sat next to her, asked her out once,

she politely declined, they still talked,

he knew some Farsi, she knew some Turkish,

created a dance of words with English falling in

at each stop to remind us we were driven

and our worth was pre-sold.

II.

From 5 April 2020

Woman One is sitting front seat with her back

to Woman Two who sits mid-carriage

away from Only Man in the corner watching.

Woman One is wearing surgical mask.

Only Man is wearing white cotton mask.

Woman Two is wearing a bandanna over her mouth.

The train’s engine is the monologue of screech

you can hear at a nurses’ desk when they call

the names after hours of waiting, the test

is not to sneeze or cough between stops,

to hold your breath as you look out the window

at lonely bike paths and roads, the test

is not to look at the face of the other

to work out the colour, the language,

to unearth the story of why, where

and for how long?

Homework

by Angela Costi

Stretch your arms beyond their length

to hold the breadth of your mind’s office 

as you convert your kitchen to cook

the ingredients of zoom and trello

for board meeting appetites,

tested recipes sprinkled

with agenda and timelines. 

Envy and confusion play squash 

on walls plastered for family living

with monitors dressed like dinner plates,

cords for cutlery, keyboards for food

and a pre-supper screening

of your after-hours colleague

devouring a grape.

Back in the day, the man of the house

would spread his legs under a mahogany desk

as big as a boat to sail his intimacy 

to the isolated coast of hubris.

Today, you will find the son sits with his mum

within ear-shot of genetic groans as dad paces

with headphones to the off-beat of a daily check-in

addressing his spatula to flip the omelette.

Each day, parents and children race as they recline

in slippers with hair pampered by pillow,

peppered with sleep pips they mute

the growls of belly, the grunts of bum,

clicking with the speed of a morning dream,

they wear a smile in time to greet

small portraits who float into view

and speak like guests

invited to dine.

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