He rings the doorbell,
climbs the fifteen steps to my flat,
tosses a gluten-free oatcake to my Bichon.
He smiles. Our fingers brush
as he hands me a baronial envelope.
It could be a bill or a tacky sympathy card.
I loathe the people he connects me with.
But I love how he swings between them and me.
It starts snowing. He will be running late. I invite him in.
I offer him a coffee. He tells me he has two daughters.
I wonder how many snowflakes get wasted every year, especially
before Christmas. He is missing a tooth. And all the magic. I want him to leave.
The snowflakes scatter the soundless territory,
they cannot linger in the in-between.
But then, who can?
I watch how the air separates their laced bodies
from the brown soil, how some land
on my postman.
The sun has infused a boiling sky with ripe berries.
A girl wraps her arms around the train seat.
“Tickets please!” She hides beneath a newspaper spread,
today’s horrific stories quietly cover her body.
The man in carriage A has finished his sushi. Left-over
sesame seeds shine on her ebony forefinger like stars.
She cuddles her canned soup. The soup responds
with a warm embrace. Chicken, carrot and ginger,
the smell of Christmas. The soup doesn’t care about
yesterday’s drama or today’s saltiness.
The birds sing ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’
She ducks in every time the train manager passes by.
First Christmas without Mum
When the earthquake killed 10000 Japanese, the doctors and social workers
knew how to act. It was salty and hard, but there was a protocol and a little
emergency bag in which to pack their sorrow.
But when you died, we did not know how to fillet the fish. How to disguise
the space for your placemat. We argued whether there ever was a Santa Claus,
completely forgot how to curve the corners of our mouths.
Everyone pretended to be busy wrapping the presents bought in a quick run to
the store, our tears inscribing crude decorations into the sequin embellishments.
All we wanted for Christmas was the year before.
Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet writing in English and Slovak. Her most recent poems appeared in Atticus Review, the Glasgow Review of Books, Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, and Envoi. Eleni’s award-winning collection of Slovak poems, A Butterfly’s Trembling in the Digital Age, was translated by John Minahane and published by Parthian Books in 2017. Her third pamphlet of English poems was published by Eyewear in December 2017.
Eleni is known for her film and dance poems, and her innovative poetic combinations, as featured on Button Poetry and Moving Poems. She has been invited to read her poetry at Harvard University, the International Ars Poetica Festival, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and at many other beautiful venues.