Tag Archives: poetry collection

Blue Rooms, Black Holes, White Lights

Blue Room
Belinda Subraman

Wildlife flickers above the fan.
A hummingbird approaches.
A plane lands on the wall.
A lace wedding cake flutters in the breeze.
Buddha appears with light and stone.
Ashes surround the pagoda.
A book and father lie waiting.
The fame of love is framed
above a door’s encryption.
A camel prances with a prince and a woman.
Flowers are mistaken.
A change of season brings armies and storms.
A tall thin bookcase holds
a Moroccan rug down.
An Italian bed holds up the dog and pillows.
The TV is blind without birds.
Tiny life takes over.
A thousand calls of night paint the moon.
Thin caskets of words and sound
slide into frames.
Neon sculptures dip down from the ceiling.
A hum of blades disturb the throat.
Hands tilt upwards.
Nothing can be said that is news.
A corner is filled with mosaic nakedness.
Santa sits near a fairy and a beer
above a steeple in a bookshelf of dreams.
A folding angel hovers over flowers
and a sweet but angry man.
Kleenex unfolds and catches.
The pink column of myth and wood
supports air and possibilities.
A tree lamp grows under mirrors.
A woman meditates, floating.
Her breast wears hats from many lands.
Her crotch is laid with red tile.
Moths thump the beaded sameness
of a hat-framed lamp.
A purple dragon across the room
shines with amethyst eyes.
Bugs and the dog fade as soon
as light turns inward.
A change of season brings armies and storms.
A thousand calls of night paint the mood.
Nothing can be said that is news.
from Blue Rooms, Black Holes, White Lights
by Belinda Subraman (Unlikely Books, 2009)
Visual art by César Ivan.

Isobel Dixon’s ‘She Comes Swimming’

She Comes Swimming
Isobel Dixon
She comes swimming to you, following
da Gama’s wake. The twisting Nile
won’t take her halfway far enough.
No, don’t imagine sirens – mermaid
beauty is too delicate and quick.
Nor does she have that radiance,
Botticelli’s Venus glow. No golden
goddess, she’s a southern
selkie-sister, dusky otter-girl
who breasts the cold Benguela, rides
the rough Atlantic swell, its chilly
tides, for leagues and leagues.
Her pelt is salty, soaked. Worn out,
she floats, a dark Ophelia, thinking
what it feels like just to sink
caressed by seaweed, nibbled by
a school of jewel-plated fish.
But with her chin tipped skyward
she can’t miss the Southern Cross
which now looks newly down on her,
a buttress for the roof of her familiar
hemisphere. She’s nearly there.
With wrinkled fingertips, she strokes
her rosary of ivory, bone and horn
and some black seed or stone
she can’t recall the name of,
only knows its rubbed-down feel.
And then she thanks her stars,
the ones she’s always known,
and flips herself, to find her rhythm
and her course again. On, southwards,
yes, much further south than this.
This time she’ll pay attention
to the names – not just the English,
Portuguese and Dutch, the splicings
and accretions of the years. She’ll search
for first names in that Urworld, find
her heart-land’s mother tongue.
Perhaps there’s no such language,
only touch – but that’s at least a dialect
still spoken there. She knows when she
arrives she’ll have to learn again,
so much forgotten, lost. And when
they put her to the test she fears
she’ll be found wanting, out of step.

But now what she must do is swim,
stay focused for each stroke,
until she feels the landshelf
far beneath her rise, a gentle slope
up to the rock, the Cape,
the Fairest Cape, Her Mother City
and its mountain, waiting, wrapped
in veils of cloud and smoke.
Then she must concentrate, dodge
nets and wrack, a plastic bag afloat –
a flaccid, shrunk albino ray –
until she’s close enough to touch
down on the seabed, stumble
to the beach – the glistening sand
as great a treasure as her Milky Way –
fall on her knees and plant a kiss
and her old string of beads,
her own explorer’s cross
into the cruel, fruitful earth at last.
She’s at your feet. Her heart
is beating fast. Her limbs are weak.
Make her look up. Tell her she’s home.
Don’t send her on her way again.