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Story With Magpies

Even When It Seems           Snow           Façade

 

Story With Magpies

 

So it was that the big boys

in a tree moved among the branches.

In black and white like statues

 

of famous waiters they walked

in their own style with a high

tinselled strut. They paraded

 

as if they owned the streets

their delicious well-fitting wings.

And out of a blue sky more came

 

and the tree was blackened and populous

with a great number.

One for sorrow. Two for joy.

 

And while they flocked and hustled

and the multitude of days and nights

flapped their pages faster in the wind

 

saying: this not that, this not that

 

one new arrival filed his beak smooth

and dropped you out of the story.

 

 

Martha Kapos

in collection, Supreme Being, 2008,
Enitharmon, ISBN 978-1-904634-62-1

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Even When It Seems

 

Alive even when it seems you are dead

standing behind me when I write

you slip your hand inside mine

as if the skin of my hand were a glove

 

your fingers inside the tunnels of my fingers

holding the pen. Now it is moving

with a movement so natural it could be

the progress of wind through tall grass,

 

taking it by force, or it could be a sweet

line of music you've marked tender or fierce.

Even when it seems you are dead

your hand keeps entering mine, so that when

 

the idea you are dead

makes a long blank space on the page —

it won't be like hearing

of your death for the first time.

 

 

Martha Kapos

in collection, Supreme Being, 2008,
Enitharmon, ISBN 978-1-904634-62-1

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Snow

 

This new weather opens

on a silent hinge with you

 

as its famous protagonists.

In a blizzard of a hundred

 

demeanours you people the air

with the many white

 

gestures your body

made in room after room

 

darkening on the stairs

throwing a door open

 

to the light, striding in

bending gently over a bed.

 

The storm turns inland.

The large white flakes fall.

 

Each one stars your face

dissolving on the road.

 

They pause for a mild unmoving

moment of celebrity

 

hovering like the one or two

desultory pictures

 

in the paper I’m leafing through

on my way to work.

 

 

Martha Kapos

in collection, Supreme Being, 2008,
Enitharmon, ISBN 978-1-904634-62-1

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Façade

 

Seen from the back prominent and alone

brooding at the kitchen sink

it seemed your body stood

on the crest of a hill with the long

 

patience of public architecture, Palladian

wings stretching down to the water,

a great building with the silence

of a face about to speak.

 

Even from this distance we could see

it had ideas of its own mapped

inside it, arched colonnades and shrines

lonely as the pockets in a lung.

 

Taciturn as a church, your body

did not speak. You spoke from it.

As words rose from your lips, starlings

erupted in a rustling swarm and flew.

 

Sometimes we could see a pale

brown window late at night,

the eye you looked out of, leading back

along a hallway to the festivities inside

 

hidden as the fingers of two hands

humming like a congregation

clasped together in a fist.

Here is the church. Here is the steeple.

 

But we had to imagine you

saying your prayers, a bent figure

kneeling in the tall nave

of yourself, an empty religious space

 

going up to the roof. Tonight

your body, a solid block gliding

in movement into the room,

is as watchful and withdrawn as a prison.  

 

The population, the hundreds

detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure,

holed up in the outline of a man

are rattling the bars of their cells.

 

 

Martha Kapos

in collection, Supreme Being, 2008,
Enitharmon, ISBN 978-1-904634-62-1

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