Angela Costi: ‘Night Shift Crescendo’

Angela Costi reading ‘Night Shift Crescendo’

The rain is slapping her window
harder, harsher
Stamata, stamata…
She knows this warning well.
The wipers are trying to fend off the slaps
Beesaw, beesaw…
The intersection is amber light
and proffers a U-turn 
to five minutes ago
Evans Street, Lalor, Melbourne, Australia
or five years since
mud path, torn village, Hartchia, Cyprus.

One home has her
gulping her coffee like medicine
covering her lips with mavro kerasee
forcing her thick curls to conform
fighting with the shadows for her car keys
leaving her kids to their toothpaste battles
to their adopted bed-time stories.

Walking the dirt carpet to her tired Capri
igniting the engine to deafen the dialect
Stile me mana
haunting the radio announcer’s slumber
with the song of guilt at the village well
when water was carried like a secret lover
Stile me mana sto neron
Na su do fero dhroseron

The older home has crept into the car
in the back seat, blowing into her ear
lyric, seed, graft, sprout
Yunaika kai sklava, bunta na eimai
with the rain turning into the water
brimming with threats to spill
Stile me mana sto neron
Na su do fero gatharon

There was that one path
her bare feet knew
like her mother’s command
Beyene yrioyra, koree mou
and now she is stopped
at a green light
wanting the rain to drown
her horn of rage.

Glossary and Notes for Greek and Cypriot-Greek dialect

Note: All spellings are phonetic

Stamata: (Greek) stop
Beesaw: (Greek) go back
Hartchia: (Cypriot) a Cypriot village in the North of Cyprus
mavro kerasee: (Greek) black cherry lipstick
Stile me mana: (Cypriot-Greek, derived from classic Cypriot song) Send me, mother
Stile me mana sto neron,/ Na su do fero dhroseron: (Cypriot-Greek, lyric derived from a classic Cypriot song) Send me for water, mother, do,/ I’ll bring it back so cool for you
Yunaika kai sklava, bunta na eimai: (Cypriot-Greek) I’ll always be a woman and slave (a statement of inner discontent)
Beyene yrioyra, koree mou: (Cypriot-Greek) Go quickly, my daughter.

Since 1994, Angela Costi has been publishing and performing her poetry in Australia and abroad. In 1995 she travelled to Greece to study Ancient Greek Drama and perform at Amphitheatre sites as part of a travel award from the Australian National Languages and Literacy Board. Her poetry, stories and essays have been published in a great range of print and online journals, including Southerly, Meanjin and Cordite. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Dinted Halos (Hit&Miss Publications, 2003), Prayers for the Wicked (Floodtide Audio, 2005) and Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007). Honey and Salt was shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize 2008. She has written eight produced plays. She utilises both her law degree and arts background at Victorian Human Rights Commission, where she delivers a storytelling approach to legal education for newly arrived communities.

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