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
yet seeping entanglements
into the breath
of night’s air.
The Daily Commute
by Angela Costi
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.
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?
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.
Categories: Poetry, shelter-in-place
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