Poems by Siobhan Harvey
page 9 of Tarot #1
At night, the home turns to dark matter:
constellations spin at dusty windows; stray
cats prowl a lightless street; veiled vehicles
steal by. Belonging here is seized
from TV flickers, the home electric
with absent light, the world-views of
politicians, people-traffickers, wall-builders,
warmongers and fake-news profiteers, ghosts
in the haunted house of the news.
The swell high in the estuary close by,
the home imagines itself, like the migrant,
rowing in ocean air beneath moonlight.
There is upset. There is unsettlement.
Freighted with loss, a sleepwalker disturbs
corridors; their breath troubles empty rooms.
The home soothes this wild spirit with warm tea,
guides it to resting, then sings it to sleep.
Soon thoughts become dead bodies
washed up on starless shores, craft capsized
in deep waters, babies born to detention centres.
The home peels away the roof of this
strange reality, as if it’s a scar, as if it bleeds.
At the heart of the matter is such music
as beats in the body unseen, and here the home
calls out sanctuary to all who are displaced, all ghosts
turned away, in dark matter, from entry elsewhere.
Come to me, it cries.
Come be bodies safe as homes
no politician, people-trafficker, wall-builder,
warmonger or fake-news profiteer can haunt.
My Mother is a Ghost Living in My Mind
page 42 of Tarot #1
The dead aren’t always buried.
Some live on in silence separated
by their need to
away. From me,
she is forever cold, as if lost
at sea or in undying snowstorm, body
seized by fog or mind disturbed
from collective memory. Who are you?
I ask, Where did you go?
One moment, a farewell;
the next refusing to speak.
She comes to me in crises:
her tearful rejection of me;
my tearful certainty she can’t love.
During lockdown, she’s free to haunt
my absent days and nights until
I call down the heavens to end it all.
The other life I might have known
with her is filament burned
into my mind. A movie
never released; a book
unpublished: these I inherit
as she ghosts me. The forgeries
and false antiques of reconciliation,
long lost phone calls stirring
in the still of night, I learn
to surrender everything in time.
When finally free, hope is broken-
winged and blunt-billed. Downed
by careful navigation and deceit,
I’m left to the emptiness
of another, to embalm and burden
myself, her silence and haunting
judgement born by me as eternal cut.
page 47 of Tarot #1
Like candlelight of protestors, the fires
cast from old homes upon the inlet’s dark water
are extinguished by eviction. Darkness
may consume them, they who are ghosts,
who are displaced from their homes, power
cut, emptied of belongings perhaps, but
these protestors are alight with oxygen
enough to flame protest, Rise Up! Rise Up!
Like a symphony on the theme of loss,
their voice carries across the land.
It is owl cry. It is moonlight. By night,
it is breath disturbing those who sleep.
Rise Up! Rise Up! Their chant swells again
with the tide. As homes are taken to resting
elsewhere, these protestors are left to watch
from windows dead without their fire.
Like electricity, the pulse of rejection burns
long in them. It is a fierce sun. It is the last song
of a dying bird. And they who are incandescent
with injustice, continue their cry. Rise Up! Rise Up!
For these protestors have nothing but embers,
yet they fight on with a burning need for home,
family and faith, if only to retain their voice.
Which is the most powerful thing of all.