“Poems from the Emerald Island”

von Gabrielle Alioth

After the Flood

After the flood when the water subsides
Scars will appear on the island,
Stumps of trees,
The shells of the drowned.

For weeks then, the fire will smoulder
With dead branches we pull
From meadows submerged
And damaged banks.

In the cold afternoon light
I will raise the fences again
Pushing the posts deeper
Into the ground.

Through the winter the grass will grow
The chestnut will flower in spring
But it will get harder to look at the river
And trust your familiar smile.

Family
(for Max)

There was a house
we knew as children
with a dark room
where fear came from.
There was a blue-rimmed bowl
in a kitchen filled
with the smell of milk.

We remember an old man,
sunk in a wicker chair.
You now think he was evil
and I can see
his hooked nose
in my reflection.

There is a gesture we share
that others recognize,
a hesitation before we speak,
a scent that would deceive a dog.
And there is
what we have longed for
in lonely nights.

I had to meet you but once
for knowing you all my life.
You use the words of my past
as if you owned them,
and in your touch is a warmth
I resist to recall.

The woman

I am the woman
Running through the wooded
Twilight of your dreams.
I am the one you see
From a moving train
Licking an ice cream cone at a village station.

I am the one you picture
In the bed of your rivals
And one day you will follow me
When we meet
In the moonlit night
Of a foreign town.

I have the silken hair
Your touch will
Turn into snakes.
I have the smiling lips
whose kiss will make you
burn.

I am the woman
You long for when
You leave the embrace
of your faithful wife,
And the one, you hope,
Your sons will never meet.

Behind me

Every day now
I hear his steps behind me
Small shells cracking
Under his feet
When I walk the beach in the morning.

As a child
I imagined his majestic wings
His soft voice
And I think
I even trusted him.

Later I smelled his breath
On the skin of my lovers
Felt his hand
Holding my heart.

I fought with him
Over reason
For my child
For the next spring.

Now, I’m just waiting
To trip
So he can catch me.

Savannah

In my click-clack high-heel shoes
I walk through the hot summer night
On the arm of a sailor
With honey-brown eyes.

Trees cover the square in
Midnight shadows, houses
Smile on streets paved
With treacle of memories.

And on the Camellia rug
Of the iron-framed bed
I will taste the spice of life in your sweat,
Feel the angel´s wing.

In my high-heel shoes
I will keep walking through the shadows of time
Bared of a future,
Freed from the past.