Angela Costi – Fever

Angela Costi LEP&W V2 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.

Fever, poems by Angela Costi.


The authorities ring every second day when did you first notice?
It was less than a month ago
I can’t remember whether it began
with a sore throat a cough a headache a shiver an argument
or ghosted into existence
I remember what wasn’t listed as symptom

In our bedroom we have an enormous print
titled Together in the Maelstrom
we lie back on our pillows stare
at this very small couple with their back to us holding hands
they tentatively stand on a peak overwhelmed by a crush
of colours shapes lights senses

The first night he was clinging
to our vertical mattress he heard me singing
a tune I’d never sung when well despite my rasp I was
on key when I stopped I said a word as an announcement
to all in my dream by morning he forgot that word
he’d held all night

The second night was when the bile stewed hot
daring to outrun
my lungs there was Little-Me and Dying-Me discussing my life
alone in the queen size bed I saw her let go of his hand
and fall
into the void that couple is framed with suffer

when I turned my bed into the sea with my sweat
I knew it was over
I walked away from my sheets
exhausted with the guilt
of not fighting wars holding up placards stopping fracking mining
–––– I let go of his hand to fend off the claws in that painting

The phone call from the Department was three days too late
for me to explain with accuracy
the temperature and oxygen level whether he needed 16 puffs
of Ventolin like I did
in the corner of the painting
he saw seven lightning strikes


I’m sitting by his side holding his hand they tell me
he knows it’s being held he continues to work so hard
even in silence

here is hung the brightest blue of skies
inspiring the sea’s
ripples to lap the honey dunes
when he wakes he will he notice


No accident of time has brought us
to this one love
of space and light
Your body my instrument
to play my game of pose
The sun is your mother
preening your strength
my fault is picking the second
to expose what is left
Many call it a holiday
a chance to unwind
There is the challenge
to change what is you and me
into the us
become the species
of both.

They call me your wife
let them believe
I am your shadow

You who know
our true sickness
to wake with this thirst to search for body
caught in the grip of unknowing
hair teeth nipple open and wanting
and then there is me
absorbing your heat of ambition
my obsession
to capture you
yawning or shouting.

One will never know
there is more
there is your shape
locked into my key
see how we match.


after 2020-21 Melbourne lockdowns

During those months, our house protested
with leaks draughts sudden fumes
we persisted without consulting
as bedroom became office, alcove
a schoolroom, carport a playground,
as family grew to include the manager
issuing maintenance tips, then home
lost its memory
invited the possum to screech
Remember Remember
all through the night.

Now, our house sleeps
during the day
and barely rouses to mornings
of coffee grinding, toaster popping, shrieking
to catch the tram at 8.05. When we
return with our bags and hunger
it utters no creak
like my father who is 86
sitting all day listening to his thoughts
of what he was
to so many.

© Angela Costi

Angela Costi is the author of five poetry gatherings/books including Honey & Salt (Five Islands Press, shortlisted Mary Gilmore Prize 2008) and An Embroidery of Old Maps and New (Spinifex, 2021). Also, nine produced plays/performance-text (five commissioned and funded). Her poetry has placed/shortlisted in a number of prizes including Woorilla, Meniscus and joanne burns Microlit Awards. Since 1994, she’s been published widely in Australia and overseas. In 2021, she received the High Commendation for Contribution to Arts and Culture, Merri-bek Award. She is known as Αγγελικη Κωστη among the Cypriot diaspora, which is her heritage. She lives on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land.

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