Gaia Holmes’s ‘Desires’

Gaia Holmes

We keep our desires
in small cast-iron boxes
with impenetrable locks,
carry them with us
wherever we go
and they weigh us down,
make our hearts feel
like toothache.
Sometimes sounds creep
through the metal:
bird song, slow ferns uncurling,
rain on greenhouse glass.
when we’re not concentrating
scents slip out
of the miniscule cracks:
crushed orange peel,
fevers and hot summer skin.
Sometimes our desires
are beyond our control,
they make whirlwinds
in their prisons,
rock their boxes,
scream for honey
and fingertips.
We try to ignore them,
blush and fidget,
smother them with our coats
and talk about maths.
Sometimes we’re cruel,
we fill the bath
and hold them under water
until they stop babbling,
deprive them of our dreams.
from Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed (Comma Press, 2006)

6 thoughts on “Gaia Holmes’s ‘Desires’

  1. christine

    Ack, I feel like she wrote this poem just for me. And she has that little box! Oh, thanks for sharing this one… . I’ve got to get my hands on this book!

  2. Tammy Ho

    Thank you so much for sharing this poem. My heart aches reading this: “they weigh us down,/ make our hearts feel/ like toothache.” And the final bathtub metaphor is original and relatable.

  3. Lucy

    I find all these Gaia Holmes poems really vivid and compelling.

    Thanks for your lovely ‘welcome home’!

  4. Ameerah

    This is so true of our desires, and our bittersweet relationship with them, fairytale-ish and dark at the same time!

    I feel the same as Lucy; all of Holmes’ poems are wide-eyed and colourful in their thoughtfulness. I love them, they remind me a bit of Caroline Bird

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