Under Wraps, poems by Lynda Tavakoli
Lynda Tavakoli facilitates an adult creative writing class in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. She is the author of two novels (Attachment and Of Broken Things) and a short story collection (Under a Cold White Moon). Her poetry and prose have been broadcast on the BBC and RTE. Literary successes include poetry and short story prizes at Listowel, the Mencap short story competition and the Mail on Sunday novel competition. Lynda’s poems have been published in a variety of publications including Templar Poets’ Skein, Abridged, The Incubator Journal, Panning for Poems, Circle and Square, North West Words, Four X Four, The Honest Ulsterman, A New Ulster, Corncrake magazine and Poethead. She has been selected as The Irish Times Hennessy poet of the month for her poems about dementia, a recurring theme in much of her poetry. Most recently her poems have been translated into Farsi while others have seen publication in Bahrain.
Here is the sound of footfall on a London bridge,
the easiness of intersecting strangers on journeys home
while underneath the feet of these so ordinary,
not so ordinary lives, a river courses her arterial flow
from source to sea, unchecked by circumstance,
witness only to the calling of some human tragedy
playing out above.
Here is the echoing of barter in a Bagdad street,
the lilt of foreign tongues exchanging deals
from stall to stall, the slit-eyed beauty of a mother
carrying out her daily chores.
Conversations seized and scooped and scattered
on a desert wind to leave its silence
chewing on the remnants of charred bones
like an afterthought.
Here is the scent of roses on a White House lawn,
where spring sunshine smiles on the good
and on the bad, and on the dark souls of the unseeing,
where truth becomes artifice, spreading onto streets
in black and white, and finally falling back upon itself
to end up where it first began, among the dead heads
of a rose’s fading scent.
Here is the thrum of a getaway car on a city side street,
the tit for tat of a television debate.
Here is the call for prayer from a Damascus minaret,
the song of organ pipes in an English churchyard,
the chants from a Temple, the muteness of an unbeliever.
Here is a synagogue, a chapel, a mosque, an anywhere school
with the chattering of children on a morning break.
Here is the world we shape for them.
Here is the beating heart of us together on this page,
the conformer and the curious, the remarkable,
the bold, the recusant and the just plain odd.
We are spun together with gossamer thread,
all of us hurting or loving or grieving or needing-
most of all needing the wraparound arms
of acceptance each of us craves.
And here is the seed of our redemption.
Death of Thumos
eats its bones
a marrowed tongue
in the grieving sky.
We feed our hunger
on skeletons of greed,
taste buds tainted
as we lick them free
of breath and blood,
for our sins.
the world weeps
on its trespasses
seeking pardon in
Listen and hope
that all those things
that made us human once
survive the subterfuge
of what we are –
that crumbling carcass
of disingenuous truth.
Library shelves, book bloated,
the smell of oldness
without a ticking clock
and a back room waiting.
Better than all the words
on every musty page
a wall of specimens
are glassed in sleep.
Floating eyeballs, warted toads,
a chevron snake
my brother said was found
in someone’s bed.
I never slept the same again.
In this whispered light of a Fermanagh bog
I walk the past, bramble barbs scalping my legs,
a soft moss squidge welcoming my forgotten weight.
It was here the daily trudge of feet dented our presence
into a quiet earth, my older siblings tearing ahead,
scouting the terrain with the mischief of uncomplicated youth.
Here lies the residue of childhood, a place where,
secreted from the world, a brother and a sister lived,
their oddity as normal then to us as finding cuckoo spittle
on a morning blade of grass. Here, too, remains my ghosted self,
the child I was, facing the future with a fist, but always waiting
for my mother’s voice across the bog to bid me home.
© Lynda Tavakoli