3 poems by Angela Costi (Aggeliki Kosti)

Angela-Costi-012 (1)


I can lose myself  
between bed and mirror
cot and door 
lamp and window
I can merge with the suckling at my chest
the train snoring at my side
the call of the lonely magpie,
still I drain into the miracle.

The dark, the shadows, the moon 
my mind 
his growing mind
evoke koonia bella, swing my baby hither, koonia bella
my voice quivers in rhythm with the window panes 
while they recall it’s raining, it’s snowing, God waters the statues
other nursery rhymes fight for the match, 
one lights the wick to melt the candle that fills the room
with the smell of my one dolly
I thought I had lost.
We used to play balamakia, let’s clap our hands, clap, clap, clap
daddy will come and bring us sweets, kooloorakia for our biscuit tin

Lyrics come stomping up and down the hallway
knocking at the door, waiting for no reply
they barge in to slap away sleep
to open the mountains and oceans of pages 
found on the shelves of children’s libraries.
On page 53, the room is a country.
Is it the lion or the witch 
seducing the wardrobe’s clothes?
On 203, an expanse of history.
Swords and shields march the walls, 
the baby’s cry heralds the battle,
running fast over pages to escape death
we rest with the parable of the lion
retold by my grandfather.

He who listens to the mouse 
knows pain is the best teacher.  
The roar will be restored
once the rope is nibbled and frayed
and the wounded nipple 
will become our well, 
our fountain.
One fontanelle may cradle my heart’s tremor
but I count hundreds of swaddled bees, eyes filmy blue
stalking the nipple’s shadow    still I feed
and I am fed
become stronger
carry my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother
and all mothers before her 
drained of our stories 
as one.

The tug and surge 
the squeeze and gush
as liquid love fills baby two
and I fall into serene. 

My hair gently stroked 
by mother multitudes. 

We eat to keep ourselves plump 
tidy the bedroom of dropped clothes, toys, nappies… 
read the local paper.

And come night 

Yiayia is Swimming in my KeepCup 

“… none of us leaves our personal stuff at the door, that we are always seeking to replicate structures from our childhood … we can each do our work but not expect the organization to solve the wounds of our childhood.”
							Jerry Colonna, Podcast 
					Can you really bring your whole self to work?

From my spinal cord the spirited child 
swings up through my lungs
and leaps from my mouth 
with words like unruly curls,
despite my hair stretched into submission, 
and pale blue, buttoned-up shirt
defying my grandmother’s colours of roar and bleed.

The child is listening to Yiayia				Γιαγιά: Grandmother 	
as the data morphs into ένα δύο τρία				ena dyo tria: one two three 
as the fluorescent light holds a firm, old hand
resting on my shoulder 
reminding me to eat my lunch.  

Ee glossa tis miteras				Η γλώσσα της μητέρας: the mother tongue
wafts from my moussaka 
disturbing those lunch packs 
with food of calm and order, 
my language of birth 
with values to live 
and reasons to die 
sits hunched 
as if tending to an open fire, as if
retrieving water from a smelly well,
my legs fated to walk uphill
even in stockings and heels.

At branch meetings 
all staff are grafted
to their family’s tree,
their words drop like fruit
from the lips of the dead, 
their ideas no more than 
leaves of retired ancestors.

She travels the length of my report
using pen to mark her birth tongue,
scolds with her dead father’s voice,
“Critical deficiencies in negotiation,” 
he enjoys squeezing her soul.

After Dinner 

7.50 pm, 3 August 2020, Coburg, Victoria 

Her name is Filomena, I call her Fil,
strangers and reporters call her Pyjama Mama 

one night, after rinsing and stacking the dishes,
she sprayed Lemon Myrtle throughout the house

fear continued to permeate the living room 
as the news spread its grime all over her couch 

that night, she didn’t sync her iphone into doom-scroll,
she failed to perform her part in the family’s chorus 

she didn’t sneak nor march towards the front door,
it was as casual as going to the shop for bread 

at first, the silence was gun fire— startling, 
there were no cars charging the street like a red flag

the ambulance siren was a sweet whistle of care, 
the night sky was an empty casket of dreams 

and she walked in the middle of her street 
with spotted zebras nibbling night’s air. 

8.05 pm, 8 September 2020, Coburg, Victoria 

She keeps walking in her pink bunny slippers
passes the red post-box, turns into Lever Street 

as if pulled by a thought, another follows her 
with lip-stick poodles pattering the breeze 

flannel carves their bodies into canvasses 
of cotton creatures rippling with joy 

another middle-aged mother, another woman 
with a computer fighting with laundry-time 

they become the neighbourhood’s lullaby,
an unrehearsed choreography of comfort

pink tigers, red pandas, stripes and swirls
follow the poodles, following the zebras

through a grid of carved bitumen and grass, 
their slippers silence the day’s crescendo. 

8.35 pm, 30 September 2020, Coburg, Victoria 

The wind slaps our faces, twists our hair,
dogs lunge at us through ravaged fences

the moon cowers as a tree grows arms, 
even then, we are like posties or soldiers

we are the mothers feeding the night 
with our milk curing sores and aches 

our walk is an allegory before bedtime,
a sip of chamomile with port or whisky 

unlike our day made of survival’s tenets,
there is no talk to drill rules into hearts

Fil is our quiet, useful bookmark 
turning each street into a page 

as we pass, some windows offer
clues to once-upon-a-time. 

8.45 pm, 16 October 2020, Coburg, Victoria 

the boundary road is never crossed,
it’s our river Lethe, our warning 

a semi-trailer blares its horn of stress,
we recall a key used to ignite speed

we circle back carrying our animals
as dreams designed to coax sleep.

Angela Costi is known as Aggeliki Kosti among the Cypriot-Greek diaspora of her heritage. She is the author of five poetry collections including, An Embroidery of Old Maps and New (Spinifex, 2021). In 1995, she received an award from the Australian National Languages and Literacy Board to study Ancient Drama in Greece. In 2009, she travelled to Japan with support from the Australian Council to work on an international collaboration with the Stringraphy Ensemble. In 2020-21, she received two arts grants from the City of Melbourne to creatively document existence during lockdown due to pandemic. Her poetry, essays and video poems are widely published, including Rochford Street Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Hecate and The Blue Nib. She works in the social justice and human rights sectors.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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