Monday 15 February 2021

Two Poems by Lynda Tavakoli


Cold Tea


In the good room of our small bungalow,

mum read tea leaves from china cups

rescued from the Oxfam shop,

her slight frame and unassuming manner

a mere subterfuge for her divining skills.


There were rules - never on a Sunday

and never in the company of my aunt.

I don’t expect our dad much approved either,

but he let it go, understanding that some things

are probably best left undisturbed.


Believers came to swallow readings

with the trust of any never on the Sabbath

congregation and sculpted dregs of faith

round porcelain curves. Prophesies of doom

were subtly laid aside for Sunday sermons.


I sometimes wonder if she’d seen her future

buried in the leaves. An arrow (never good news),

snakes (the same), or wavy lines portending

journeys unfulfilled. But if she did, it was for none

of us to know, for that was not our mother’s way.


Looking back, I should have read the signs myself -

cups of tea, half drunk and cold, perched

on the bird table or teetering on bathroom shelves

and once or twice abandoned by our father’s garden tools -

that sedge of herons she had planted by the pond.


It’s the way I like to drink it, she would say, the dare

in her eyes always enough, and later,

tea leaves carefully strained, I would present to her

a sun, a fish, a flying bird and catch her smile,

cupped in her hands the white lie of a daughter’s love.




The Sadness of Crows


Before the day opens its eyes,

on a fence,

two black crows,

their thistle throats

rinsing the morning

with sorrow.


If I could,

I would offer them

the fragile bones

of a vanished chick,

its soul seeping quietly

into warm-dug earth.


I would tell them

it lay now in softest tissue,

belly feathers fluffed

and eyes of lazuline

puzzling the injustices

of ‘going light’.


For in the night

my sleep had met

their fledgeless child

and I had known the flutter

of its death kiss

on my cheek.


Later, the boneyard

of my garden

would fold its limbs

about that curl of wing

and clutch of claw

in final flight.


Before the day closes its eyes,

on a fence, two crows,

messaging the sky

with longing for

a small remaining breath

in a dying afternoon.



Lynda Tavakoli lives in County Down, Northern Ireland, where she facilitates an adult creative writing class and is a tutor for the Seamus Heaney Award for schools.  A poet, novelist and freelance journalist, Lynda’s writings have been published in the UK, Ireland, the US and the Middle East, with Farsi and Spanish translations.

Lynda has been winner of both poetry and short story prizes in Listowel, The Westival International Poetry Prize and runner-up in The Blackwater International Poetry Competition and Roscommon Poetry Competition. Her poems have also appeared in The Irish Times, New Irish Writing.

She was recently a guest poet on RTE1 The Poetry Programme and her poem, ‘You’re Beautiful’, was featured in the ‘Words Lightly Spoken’ podcast.

Her debut poetry collection, ‘The Boiling Point for Jam’ is published by Arlen House.




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