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Mélisande Fitzsimons - Four Poems

Mélisande Fitzsimons


I was taking notes to keep up
but it was like gathering feathers in bluster
because I couldn’t keep his wrists
to myself, torch his sleeves
before he would stop remembering me
and pick his words like arrows
I could stick or shoot myself

As he was hollowing me, slick as oil
I dangled tight until I had to drop
but he was already gone
on to another warship, elusive, musical
and my ability to tell night from day
was never enough to stretch him

Repeating the same awkward scenes for little
noise as I always wanted more of him
a whiff, a lick of his skin to trick him back
but he had already left in the dark
never wanting to be seen.

After Peter Gizzi’s Reading at Plymouth University

When I think of “bardo”I think of Brigitte
not the intermediate state of Buddhism
your past is as mysterious as my death
haunting like Easter. Erection is much
easier to explain to a 4 year-old boy
than resurrection.

It’s a private thing, writing.
A private context, a private value.
I am sitting next to the story
humbled from person to person
private people I can’t name
lumped here, located there.

I belong to the sounds.
(Listening to that lyrical epic
I turn into a wild boar by holding
my head between my ears).
If you shake the book
the continuous momentum

of a suspension bridge makes a sound
so keen, like new vowels. I am Queen
when the reading is done.
I have broken the back of a new tune
made the lines bark.

My One Hundred Years of Sleep

I radiate an animal smell that is new to me
I have been sleeping for so long
that I have lost the pleasure of speaking alone
I dream of people I don’t know

And although I always want to run away and be
done with it, I have to stay put
exploring all the nuances of napping
the luxury of lenteur, with a knot on my back
an ivory button wedged between my breasts

I can feel the comfort of linen
on my skin, I would like to touch
with tongue the salts of alum stone
burnt dry, a lost scent that never left me
long after you were gone

I inhale and feel the ripples in me open
exhale, a small tremor, a trance
a word still unknown
that will take form only when I wake up

The crowds are here, they reach for me
I, too, have read Rimbaud
without getting seasick
on our own slow boat

My uncle on horseback tries to cut my hair
I threaten him with the gold nib of a fountain pen
and make him drop his knife       
my jumper was eventually found on the battlefield
my dreams are always so literal

It’s just me swirling
you wouldn’t know I was here
women are sunnier
it’s a question of skin and shadows
I am covered in colours and creases, now

Would daylight hurt my eyes
if I opened them?
Will I wake up under water
blowing kisses to the surface?


My mother

a small, white monkey

with bruises of azul areda marble

on her face, stretched like dead rubber

her left arm folded in a sling

is lying on a slab

in a beautiful blue dress we bought that morning

in a town we had never visited

before and never will again

and new shoes we struggled

to find and fit over her painted toes

because she always had

such small feet

Copyright © Mélisande Fitzsimons, 2020.

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