Maria Taylor is a British Cypriot poet. Her debut collection, Melanchrini, was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. More recently, she published her pamphlet Instructions for Making Me with HappenStance. Maria's writing has featured in a range of magazines, and she's Reviews Editor for Under the Radar. Her new collection, Dressing for the Afterlife, is due out from Nine Arches Press in September 2020.
What It Was Like
When the stranger’s baby cries, my body remembers
the shrill, tuneless song of need. It remembers
endless nights of cat and dog rain. It remembers
our road falling asleep, as we forgot to remember us.
That summer, clothes stopped remembering
to fit. We’d look through thin curtains and remember
the sun, mimicked by sodium light. I remember
the feel of warm, sleep-suited limbs, still breathe in
their powdery smell. The stranger I used to be lives
in the present tense now. The baby fidgets on her chest
like a rabbit. Then he’s calm. His blue eyes gnaw
on me for a moment till his head’s at rest,
the frail, dreaming head of infancy that only knows
a need for love and milk, that won’t remember any of this.
Think of Will, the ghost of Covent Garden,
the murdered thesp who’s walking alongside you
down and down a staircase that never ends.
Dapper gent. Eventually you’ll see daylight.
The actor won’t. Spare a thought for the ghosts
we pass at stations: their secret meetings, flings, kisses.
People vanish into thin air every single day,
even ghosts fade in time. Where do they go
all those see-through Elizabethans,
Plantagenet kings in car parks, crying boys
reaching out for our faces, those we can’t see, can’t feel.
You’re no different. Look, here’s your own reflection.
Woman Running Alone
A woman who follows her own trail
and pounds pavements of unending cities,
past statues of forgotten men, fountains,
sticky sunshine pouring over tower blocks,
past gentrified basement windows
where wives hear the washing-up howl
between their hands, past suits on phones
and panda-eyed women in doorways
with faces that say I know, I know – tell me
about it; these streets where open hands
beg for more than is ever offered,
where someone’s kid is a sleeping bag,
where the wolf-whistle becomes the wolf
and love’s worn like musk aftershave,
where she forgets who she is: Ms. Keep On,
Ms. Never-going-home, neither running away
nor running toward anyone, wind-sifted,
letting the weather sing through her,
she who is different to her brothers.
The rhythm fills her with flight –
and her wings,
what wings she has –
What It Was like: The North
Woman Running Alone: The Result is What You See Today:
Poems About Running (Smith/Doorstop)