Captivity

I.

looking through the lofty glass door
I feel the faint sun on my forehead

I press my hands against the glaze of ice
I grasp the slender handle to crack it

I must lean out of it
I must step out of it

into the sparkling garden below me
into the buzzing street beyond it

I must follow the clouds to the edge of the land
I must follow the winds to the edge of the earth

 

II.

Iron railing in brick wall, like a gate without lock, with view onto green riverbank.tomorrow I will open my eyes
as if I saw the sun for the first time

tomorrow I will get up and go
as if my steps were guided and guarded

I will step out of my mind
into someone else’s mind

I will step out of my eyes
into someone else’s eyes

then I shall touch beauty
then I shall taste life

 

III.

Heavy rusty gate, decorated with swirls, with keys in lock.the summer was short
and long was the winter

I witnessed neither
I looked upon bricks

that was when I realised
how glaring lamps are and how bland

how pages are made of paper
and screens stay stubbornly flat

that was when I faded
from a flag to a shadow

I chewed on the bare bread of hope
turning sweet on my tongue

Christina Egan © 2012

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2018 / 2014.

August Night / Nur Asche zu essen

August Night

The night is short and moist and sweet,
with secret sprouting life replete…
and stark and bitter all the same.

There is no peace on golden wings,
there is no peace from silver limbs…
only a tiny steady flame.

Christina Egan © 2012


In the midst of abundant midsummer,
the narrator has not found peace — neither
through prayer or meditation nor through
the presence of a beloved person.

The following poem laments the unborn dead,
whose graves are nameless and forgotten and
who never saw the light of the sun although
angels may have taken them elsewhere…


Nur Asche zu essen

Nur Asche zu essen,
nur Lehm statt Brot,
nur Erde zu wissen:
der bitterste Tod.

Den Leib ohne Atem,
das Aug ohne Licht,
das Grab ohne Namen:
das schärfste Gericht.

Die niemals Gebornen,
fast ohne Gewicht,
von Engeln Verborgnen:
Vergesset sie nicht.

Christina Egan © 2018

By the River I was Sitting

By the River I was sitting

By the River I was sitting
Watching barges floating by
Like the clouds so full of promise
In the blue and burning sky

Bearing jewels, bearing silver
From the mountains crowned with snow
Bearing spices, sweet and fiery
From the jungles down below

By the River I was waiting
For a boat to pick me up
Till the oars were folded inward
And the city-gates were shut

On my roof-top I was watching
Night like lapis-lazuli
While the stars were slowly rolling
Round the tiny lonely me

By Two Rivers I was dwelling
In a house of golden bricks
In my dress of snow and silver
Waving to intrepid ships

When the stars had come full circle
Strangers broke my city-gate
And my boat lay by the palm-trees
Finest date-wine was its freight

And it flew against the current
And it floated with the storm
Till I climbed the purple mountains
Where the River Twins are born

Christina Egan © 2011

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.

 

This song of the woman by the river is taken
from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011).

Place: City of Ur, Mesopotamia — Time: 2000 B.C.

Photograph: Assyrian jar (9th to 7th c. BC).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

Obituary (I Think I Died Last Night)

Obituary

Deep-pink rose over, bent in the snow, with pond in background.I think I died last night,
but none of you noticed.

You talk to me as if
you were talking to me!

The clocks are ticking,
the coffee is dripping…

Even the sun is smiling
while I pretend to carry on.

I was a fount of life,
never looked at, never listened to.

I was an orphan on earth.
I have to write my own obituary.

Christina Egan © 2012

Tottenham Cemetery, London.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

gesichter (fotografie / teetasse / verabredung)

gesichter

I.

fotografie

dein angesicht fängt wie ein schrein
den flammenglanz des himmels ein
und stellt ihn zart und zauberbunt
in meines herzens mittelpunkt…
ich bin allein und nicht allein.

II.

teetasse

ich schau in einem schwarzen teich
flüchtig und deutlich ein gesicht
vor einsamkeit und kummer bleich
wie ein gespenst bei mondenlicht…
ich bin es und ich bin es nicht.

III.

verabredung

zwei stimmen stimmen überein
und fremde züge spiegeln sich
zuweilen blütenblätterfein:
auf deines reimt sich mein gesicht!
du weißt es und du weißt es nicht.

Christina Egan © 2012


Two voices which echo each other, two faces which mirror each other, two people who rhyme… Everyone’s dream — and sometimes it comes true.

If Only It Could Happen

If Only It Could Happen

If only it could happen
More real than before
If only it could happen
Once more, oh, just once more

More than a memory
There never to return
More than a fantasy
There never to be born

If only it could happen
More real than before
If only it could happen
Once more, oh, just once more

More than an accident
From sadness or despair
More than an overspend
Of pity or of care

More than a fairground ride
Of wild delight, distress
More than a mounting tide
Of wandering tenderness

If only it could happen
More real than before
If only it could happen
Once more, oh, just once more

If only it could happen
And swallow up the past
If only it could happen
As lasting as it’s fast

If only it could happen
As lasting as it’s fast

More than a flower, gay,
Unfurling just to die
More than a night, a day,
A lonesome lullaby

Woman in winter clothes waiting under lantern in sunlit lane.

If only it could happen
More happy than before
I think I’ll let it happen
Once more, oh, just once more

I think I’ll let it happen
Once more, oh, just once more

Christina Egan © 2006

Photograph: Montpellier, France, in midwinter. Christina Egan © 2010.

Ex tenebris (The day is like a daffodil)

Ex tenebris

The day is like a daffodil. Yet
the green garland of the garden,
the golden garland of the sunset
cannot dispel the dark of the depth.

On the crests of the hills,
tiny blue brushstrokes,
you can watch them wander,
the deceased and the unborn.

My heart is a fist in my chest.
My tears are grapes of glass.
No one sees them: no one sees me.
I am alone with the angels.

Christina Egan © 2017

Daffodils and narcissus growing thickly around a fivefold gnarled treetrunk.Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.