Heartbeats

i

Did you know that each sea
has a different heartbeat?

The Pacific, for instance, is calm as a star
and stars watch it with the calmness of grief.

Our moon proves biased.
Scientists have shown this by counting

modulations of waves,
the gravitational pull on each sea.

Think of our moon having favourites:
the salty Black, the rowdy Irish,

the tempestuous summer storms
of the Mediterranean.

And then there’s the Andaman: its islands
propped up like stalls of ripe watermelon

that occasionally burst with happiness.

 
ii

The only time my parents called
we talked about how oranges
in this place are emerald green

and they wouldn’t believe me.
I was sat on the beach,
you had your head in my lap.

They wouldn’t understand any of it,
no more than the rambutan
you’d brought us from the market,

no more than these soft green oranges.
Do you still bleed red, my son?

 
iii

I cup my hands
and let you spill,

wring your smooth
dark skin

like a dishcloth.
It slops

by my knuckles,
a pale white ghost

and I know you
are so much to die for.

Soon you’ll stand up,
kiss my hands, check

each finger
for paper cuts.

 
iv

In the gallery was a machine
that measured our heartbeats,

that lit a series of bulbs
to flare over our heads.

I watched your hands tremble
on the conduit, as your blood rhythm

shuddered for the bright light above.
Oh it was angels and fireflies!

It was candles in the cathedrals of Europe!
The steady beat of a lighthouse!

But it wasn’t you. It couldn’t be you
up there bloodying the lights.

It wasn’t your heart
that swirled amongst the others.

 
v

Tonight the moon is the main event,
palm trees wearing their coconuts

like jewels; the fisher boats casting
their quicksilver nets, and crickets:

crickets that seem to be accompanying
everything: the stars’ soft chirrup,

our footsteps, our breath, the piano
playing Chopin in the hotel lobby.

We’re out with the moon and the dogs
who are howling on the beach,

howling through the hills, howling
as if the moon would somehow

stand to hear them and turn
from the sea to the streets of them, howling.

David Tait is 27 and from the UK. His poems have appeared in AmbitMagmaThe Rialto and Poetry Review, amongst others. His pamphlet Love’s Loose Ends was a winner in the 2011 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. He edits The Cadaverine and is House Poet for the Carol Ann Duffy & Friends Poetry Series. He spends his free time finding inventive ways to avoid uploading things onto WordPress.

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