Poetry by Angela Costi

From Bondi to Kyrenia 

She watched this sea 

with its loud waves 

demanding the surfer

to almost fall off the board 

like she did in the boat 

as she stretched to catch

the last apricot 

the crew member threw – 

there were many hands reaching 

for that taste of sunshine – 

her body flung 

against the boat’s spine 

as Poseidon opened his mouth

expecting a feed.  

FATIGUE

They come with sweets and flowers, sometimes with shopping vouchers. 

They want to know about my experience of hate since I’ve arrived.

Have I been tempted to walk without my hijab outside?

Has my pram been jostled by white elbows and knees?

Have I thrown my phone into the bin to stop 

the onslaught of trolls? 

I say No but my body says Yes.

They come again with longer questions

to ascertain my resilience or resistance.

These questions are like homework from a school 

in a language I’ve never been taught.

Last night these questions entered my dreams, 

I was fighting them like thirsty mosquitos.

The flowers were the bright Hello of my internal smile 

when I walked the safe streets those first months.

My flowers now are sick with grief  

each question asks me to reach down into my bowels 

to vomit the despair I wish I’d drown.

If I answer truthfully they promise to advocate. 

I am wading in deep water already.

How many answers before my head is immersed?

If I had their ease with English,

I would write their report 

without the data, category or diagnosis, 

it would be the story of the woman 

who thought she would never fear 

tolerance. 

CALLING  

January 2009

Maroulla makes her nest 

out of 82 years 

of threaded memory, cobwebbed hope

there is no space to sit on the edge of her bed

of worship to ripped letters 

of long-ago love,

bracelets, cups, spoons, scarves…

the treasure of tea chests and drawers

spread over her bed to recall their use,

each hand-picked photo is the quilted album

of grow, escape, arrive, settle, 

her hand darts to the strand of blue-eyed worry beads,

each bead is cradled like a grandchild in a ceremony 

of sacred water.

January 2010

Maroulla’s carer speaks,

hysteria fanning her voice, 

Your Grandmother… calling your name

I run, I drive, dread suffocating my heart.

The carer holds me away from the room

Better to remember her… 

The smell is the candle left burning

to flame the nest into a silent war – 

the victor is not the fire

it is the poem of the ritual

naming the child 

to honour the past.

JILL’S HYMN

‘In the early hours of 22 September 2012, Gillian Meagher, a 29-year-old Irish woman living in Australia was raped and murdered while walking home from a pub in Brunswick.’ The Internet, the papers, social media…

The music of hurt and pain became our nightmare,

Earth and Sky went mute, took shelter, 

the Universe inhaled a world of sorrow,

then steadied to exhale our muffled screams.

There were your colors of live to love and love to live:

red lips to engage your views with our news,  

black hair to bind our fairytales to your beauty, 

white to show the rows of bridal gowns 

and how one became your eternal dress.

Your spirit gifted these symbols,   

created an alchemy of gold-flamed candles 

cascading the length of the longest road 

turning our silent prayers into an anthem 

to be sung by us 

when we each 

walk home.

Poem by Angela Costi

Angela Costi’s poetry explores cross-cultural existence. Her poetic lens is also drawn to urban existence, highlighting moments of connection among routine and struggle. She has published four collections of poetry including Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007) and Lost in Mid-Verse (Owl Publishing, 2014). Her poetry is published by Mascara Literary ReviewStylusLitWellington Street Review (UK) and Eureka Street. 

About the contributor

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