Poetry from D.S. Maolalai

The kite

and this was toronto.

somewhere: a tuesday.

one of those dull

and hot days in late

summer. I wasn’t working.

I was sitting in the park

near my apartment,

reading a book

from my pocket.

and there were squirrels, employed

in their running about –

there were squirrels

all over toronto –

and then there was also

a hawk. it was flapping,

its wings making holes

in the grass, hurried along

like a fast escaped kite.

it didn’t get any of them;

just blew about, a little breeze-caught,

right in front of me

looking huffy and somewhat

embarrassed. I could have

touched it, if I’d put down

my book. the dark feathers,

the fast moving head

and the eyes. then it was gone

and the day was quite warm

and there was traffic moving

and a streetcar going up bathurst,

the colour of an old

can of cola.

and people were yelling

from the park’s public

swimming pool

and people were yelling

on the street.

we were somewhere,

and something

had happened.

The sort of thing that happens

4pm. Sunday

in the Phoenix Park back

and the north and a pub

called The Hole

in the Wall. drinking

a warm can of Guinness

like coffee. watching the deer

as they run between cars.

this is the thing –

what you see in the park

on a sunday. energy springing –

anxiety given

a shape. and we’re by

the back garden

to Áras an Uachtaráin

(that’s the seat of the president

for American readers)

the sort of thing that happens

in Ireland sometimes.

Stripping the kitchen.

like a lizard

scraping skin

over gravel,

or like peeling

a difficult orange,

I cut through linoleum,

dragging the knife

along down the edges

of cabinets.

this is a saturday,

eight months in a rented

apartment – we weren’t quite sure

what the contract allowed us

to do, but messaged the landlord

and hated the kitchen.

his easy response

with the usual english: I could not

give much less of

a fuck. I finish the trim

and call over my girlfriend

to help me in drawing

from body. it comes up

with an ease

which surprises the both of us,

upsetting my coffee

and bucking like water at stones.

frees with a scrape

and a sickening sucking

sensation, but the tiles

underneath are well-

cared for, and this

is a good afternoon.

the corners are stained

and discoloured by glue,

though the centre

is clean and bright yellow,

solid as surface, with some

minor cracking,

like a bone when it breaks

through the skin.

The houseplant

I slept late then

often, woke up

and made kitchen-

coal coffee. walked

to the bedroom,

useless and dry

as a plant. there was

something growing.

something awful

was growing. my girlfriend

had work and my friends

were all working; the dog

just as tired as I was.

I checked messages,

job listings, made

another coffee.

sent applications

and didn’t hear back. there was

something growing. a seed

in a shed in a garden,

on a dusty wood shelf

by some gloves.

summers would come –

I did know that.

and winters – and I

knew that too.

In India.

he took a room

in an apartment building

in the vaguely spaced out

no-man’s land

somewhere south of Smithfield,

past the Liffey,

near the Liberties. a hillside

which lurched on, downward

toward the river

like a mildly drunken misstep

on a badly levelled street.

and he overlooked

the brewery

and the clearly stretching

sunlight, which fell out

from his window

toward the northside

of the town. no shadows

but his own, marking time

and getting longer, like a toddler

slowly growing

until 10.

and he’d dearly

loved the dog – he had gave it

to his sister – but he’d left the plants

and bookshelves

and goldfish with a note;

perhaps the landlord

wanted them. and occasionally

a message: she was doing well

in India – could probably pay

his passage, if he’d maybe like

to come? inspired by the light

which struck the buildings opposite

he took to painting pictures:

his girlfriend, still in India,

and writing him

short messages.

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