Friday, 21 September 2018


‘Beauty doesn’t last forever,’ the young one said.
Wise heart, serious head.

Time passes, changes everything.
The recording poet remembers everything.

The curve of this tree, mottled with green,
the conch of this shell I may wear as a ring,
the slats of this chair I wrote a wedding poem in,
the sound of the rain pitter pattering -
even my hair curling,
sharp sting of insect biting,
wish I had done something different thinking -
years thundering along.

‘How does it feel to be forty? Tell me!’
The Dutchman says he is dreading it.
‘Wonderful!’ I say, ‘when you’re happy.’
But maybe I mean free, as maybe he is not.

There are types and types of freedom;
we rein ourselves in, and gallop fiercely on.

At night my bed is a pirate ship
loosened from its moorings.
I fight off shadows of Komodo dragons
and bodies of armoured beetles.
Mulan of the Nikoi night, I tamp down
on fear, and hungry midnight yearnings.

If Frida could, I can -
a motto for all time.

Some beauty never fades.
Some women never age.
Power grows smaller,
cupped in their hand.

©Shaista Tayabali, 2018
(participating in DVerse Poets Open Link Night)

This poem was inspired by my niece Isabella, who provided me with the first line after seeing my postcard of Frida Kahlo and learning a little of her life.

DVerse Poets Open Link Night)

Friday, 7 September 2018

BOMBAY: A Return After 21 Years

And then the rain comes down,
but gently, as though it knows 
not to carry a typhoid - 

In the heat, the dripping heat,
I am miles away from the peace 
that comes dropping slow;

But here I find a different peace,
the kind that took 21 years - 
I say ‘took’ and not ‘takes’,

Because it could just be me 
that moves at mammoth pace,
a slow pachyderm, if that’s the right term.

©Shaista Tayabali, 2018

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


The heatwave has finally come to an end, we think. The rains are teasing us in fits and starts, but of course it is still mid August. It is my birthday month, and I have already done some very exciting things - like watch the Mamma Mia prequel/sequel with my friend Victoria, which I enjoyed more than the first - is that sacrilege? Even without Meryl Streep - and mostly because Lily James is a joyous actress (she was in 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society', in 'War and Peace', in 'Downton Abbey'...)

I went to a post wedding party at my old school, decked out in a salwar kameez, and tried to feel nostalgic, but couldn't. Time has passed and moved me along with her, and that's all there is to it. And yet... if my younger self could see me posing in the quad, what would she think?

My friends Dan and Kate are back from Zambia with two new additions, and where better to take in Englishness than the fairy walk at Audley End?

And the teddy bear picnic along the train ride? There were several tunnels, but Lewis, who like all children, knows what's what, said, 'Again?' as we submerged into tunnel number three...

Comings and goings... I am embarking on global travels myself tomorrow morning... quite ambitious ones for a person who spent the whole of last year battling infections of one sort or another. But I did mention it was my birthday month and it is always lovely to celebrate one's birthday surrounded with as much love as possible - and where I'm going, there are several small persons who have buckets of love to give!

But sometimes, even when you stand still, love comes to you in a German Peanuts box, with a wooden duck from Bosham.... I have named her Jemima, hoping Beatrix Potter won't mind, because she has a pair of pink spotted galoshes (galoshes or wellingtons? Dad says wellingtons are not for ducks, presumably because they are hunting gear?) I was tempted to take her with me, but Mary said, 'No!' I love you Mary Haybittle! Thankyou for Jemima - I shall look forward to being reunited with her on my return... 


Friday, 27 July 2018


What does happy look like to you?
They fill the shelves with How To Be Happy,
but it's a sale.
What if you could be happy
without the sale?

What does happy look like to me?
My parents at the bottom of the garden,
Dad investigating his old domain;
He used to be the one who
cleared the ivy, tidied the hedges,
raked the weeds and watered the green -

Time took his eyes away,
but not the pride.
Nothing half remembered about that.
Arm in arm, they take a turn
about each bed, each nook, each curve;
Mum describes the changing years

in patterns of leaves,
trading the memory of colour
with his cane; but her hands
still tell most of the stories -
he accepts this was always her way.

Golden fields beyond their figures;
My mother's laughter, the evening chorus.
Wood pigeons salute their love.

(c) Shaista Tayabali, 2018
linking here with my fellow Dverse Poets 

Saturday, 30 June 2018


It was raining when we left Positano and Capri looked less than inviting upon our arrival. There was an air of Mt Vesuvius, threatening not ash but thunder clouds and lightning...
I had booked us into a luxury villa (my hotel illusions never cease) but our first run-in with luxury was a rather cold jacuzzi, which we determined to brave in the rain until even our temporary madness failed us and we returned like drenched sea creatures. The hotel staff felt sorry for us (or worried about a stinging review) and brought us the one snack I had wanted to try on the island - zucchini flowers. I dove into them as though I hadn't eaten in a month. They were hot and filled with ricotta, spiced with a dusting of chilli...

Although we braved the rain outside, the gates to Gardini Augusto were closed and we wandered around the Via Camerelle near the Piazetta, marvelling at how decked out the cruise ship tourists were - all suit jacketed and heeled. Capri maintains her myth of exclusivity, but I wonder if Ischia would not have suited us better with her thermal baths more forgiving to our Positano-aching legs?

The next morning when we awoke, the sun was scorching again as though the rain had never been, and we embarked on a boat tour of the island. Unfortunately an unexpected wave ate Theresa's phone, which lent the caves and grottos a slightly morose tone. But we swam for a few seconds anyway before rocking nausea set in!

Later we explored Swedish physician Axe Munthe's ode to a Greek temple in San Michele, and after bidding farewell to the last of Capri's offerings (we only missed Buonocore's Gelateria) we found ourselves back in Napoli, very ready for our first and only pizza of the holiday. And where else for pizza in Naples? Well, probably anywhere, but Da Michele is the one made famous by Julia Roberts in Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray, Love'.... 

Ciao Italia! Arrivederci! Until we meet again, very soon, I hope...