3 poems by Maureen Jivani

Open Heart

I had a heart in my hands once.
It shivered like an injured bird.
I had to stop those fibrillations
to steady that pale heart,
cooled, in its cage of bone.
Such an enormous task,
it took all the long afternoon.

But we had opera, laughter
and a tunnel of light
in that dungeon-cold room.
And sometimes it leapt,
that insensible heart, like a flying fish
or one left behind when the tide
goes out. Poor heart to be stranded
like this, a fist of blubber, in my small hands.

Going Under

Here, waiters are tall and carry silver salvers:
the dead on a plate, cabinet doors open and close
of their own accord. Venetian crystal sparkles
like a new love. The hostess grins while flaming Sambucas.

Faces float
masks accumulating dust.
A woman breezes past
wearing gold shoes and a d├ęcolletage to die for.

In the mirror, an elderly man
removes his gloves; one slips in silence to the floor.
The grandfather clock chimes the hour.

I sigh in an effort of remembrance.

An upstairs bedroom, a drab light spools through shutters,
spills across a bedraggled bed, a white glove resting
on a bedside table.

I turn, expecting a kiss I once knew.

In that Country

You did not kiss me
in a hotel room,

one with blistering paintwork
and an over-night ensemble

laid out on a single bed.
Nor did we talk about this later

in a conference room
between the keynote speaker’s

brave attempt at, ‘The Trouble with Words’
and the delegates’ response.

At coffee, we never lingered
over those last half-inches in our cups,

nor noticed the changing rhythms
in our breath, the finger-tips of space

between our hands. So at the close,
we did not dawdle in the court-yard,

fumbling for car keys, our heads spinning.
And you did not say, ‘I’ll miss you’

while a west wind skittered the gravel
at our feet and the green-eyed stray

wailed its lament
by the white-washed wall.

Maureen Jivani has been published in magazines and anthologies in the UK, America, New Zealand and Australia and has won awards for her poetry. She has a pamphlet of poems: My Shinji Noon, and a full collection: Insensible Heart, published by Mulfran Press. Insensible Heart was shortlisted for the London Festival Fringe Award 2010. She is currently working on a second collection of poetry and a book of short stories.

Maureen at peonymoon and Mulfran.


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