Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dear Doris

You smile in your sleep,
delicate hands flutter by
your cheek,
You graze your own chin

The nurses call out your name -
You smile as sweet
and sleep on.

Your grand daughter visits,
she calls you Nan,
she tells you of her day,
she rubs cream on your hands,
She wishes you would wake
when she calls you Nan,
but you smile as sweet
and sleep on.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2011   (The Rocking Chair image by Rosalie Scanlon)
for the Call and Response prompt at dverse poets ... this poem is dedicated to a patient on the stroke ward. She was in the bed next to mine, and I wished I could have known her. But she had long left this place. Where had she gone? Where do stroke patients go? She seemed peaceful there. It seemed a shame to disturb her, but when you can see someone in physical form, they seem present, and it is so difficult to not want to communicate, to call them back, to long for a response.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Missing the Leaf, Craving O'Keefe

I lost the morning
to an angry thought -

Bright leaves whistled by
without warning.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2011
Does that ever happen to you? When I lose the light this way, I try to recover it some other way. When the flat fenlands become too small, I try to imagine Taos, Albuquerque, Coyoacán. Skies like I have never seen, hot clarity that inspires this petunia
and this canna
Mind you, O'Keefe doesn't exactly look happy in her portraits, but who said anything about happy when you are astoundingly groundbreakingly talented? When Alfred Stieglitz cannot get enough of the very hands you use to create each singular sky flower, photographs them endlessly? When you are busy hooking the New Yorkers of the 1920s out of their skins and transforming their inner lives? Well? Would you rather be Georgia O'Keefe or enjoy Georgia O'Keefe? There's a movie out... tell you what I think, after....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Black Rose

Bright red whorls
can be found
at the base of the stem
where the thorns are -
the scent is sweetest,
strongest there;
the petals are softest

I place the rose
beneath my pillow,
tender, as though
my own heart
breathed there;
my heart beats
safely there.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2011
for the diverse poets
art by Alan Armstrong

Off into hospital this morning for an autumnal round of IV medication. I am taking the black rose with me for courage. Haut les couers!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Ball in Autumn

I have been doing a heady amount of reading over the past few weeks as you can imagine... but am taking a quick break from the serious stuff to join in the revelries over at Willow Manor, where the cyber Autumn Ball is in full swing, and I am extremely late indeed!

But it isn't just the reading and writing that has me late.. I just don't know what to wear!!! First I thought, a sari...
but I want to dance, and I am not sure I will be skillful enough in a sari, plus since I'm late I may as well make an entrance in colour!

Barefoot to maximise the moves to the blues and the straining sax and the velvet chords of the Beatles and Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday and Madeleine Peyroux, as they harmonise through the Manor House...
There is only one man I want as arm candy....
because he'll read me poetry after, of course, and he can tell me all about Audrey Hepburn and I won't feel even a smidgeon green eyed...
In fact I'm tempted not to go to the ball at all... ;) but my arms are heavy laden with these birds of paradise, this cherry brandy (gifts for the hostess) and my feet are itching to dance...
So au revoir, mes amies, I shall return when fireflies are bustling away from the sunrise and my books call out to me again. Until then, watch me fly!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Stopping Ghosts By Byron's Pool

In The Orchard by emka, trek
For over a week, there has been a Lighthouse Festival in Cambridge, celebrating all things Virginia Woolf. I attended a lecture held at The Orchard in Grantchester, the corner of England where time stands still (at ten to three, and there is always honey still for tea). In Grantchester, your heart could stop, and you would lay down happy, all sorrows long forgot, and dreams fulfilled, even if they were not.

Rupert Brooke
The lecture was on the Bloomsbury group - you know, the disreputable 'lived in squares, loved in triangles' lot - Woolf, Bell, Keynes, Strachey, Grant, Carrington, Forster, and on the outskirts Rupert Brooke. The lecturer was wonderful, and each illustrated detail of their lives and loves shimmered against the gold and green of the apple boughs outside the Tea Room. We were promised tea, and we had tea, finally outside on the green canvas deck chairs. And I thought of Dawn, my friend Dawn, who promised she would never be very far away, and clearly could not resist autumn in The Orchard. A couple seeing me all alone (a young woman! all alone!) engaged me in conversation and then led me across autumn leaves down to Byron's pool. (That sounds dodgy but I assure you they were delightful). Rupert Brooke, described by Yeats as 'the handsomest young man in England', wrote the following lines about Byron's skinny dipping adventures in the poem that has immortalised Grantchester...

Michael Sowa, The Little King, from Magpie Tales

'I only know that you may lie
Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky,  
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester...
Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool'  

I felt the ghost draw near, and then we saw Byron's Swans, majestic and moody, and I thought of Brooke, writing these homesick lines in Café des Westens, Berlin, in the spring of 1912, dreaming of King and country, aching for a piece of green England, while around him, Germany gathered itself for war.

In Cambridge, the ghosts are everywhere. I don't mind them at all.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Flying on a Heatwave, in October

This cornflower blue sky
these corn yellow wheat fields
this blushing pink skin
of cloud -

this is it.

 © Shaista Tayabali, 2011

I tried to photograph the sun today, the green and the red and the gold of it. I tried to capture the inexplicable flying elephantness of it - the unexpectedness of it, this heatwave in autumn. To you reading this in the heat, there is nothing surprising. To you in the cold, you are trying to recall summer gone by. To those of us in England, settling in for months of grey, hooray hooray, until next time, hooray!
first photo courtesy htc, second via Tess Kincaid for Magpie tales