Kapka Kassabova was born and raised in Bulgaria. After two years in England, her family moved to New Zealand and since then she has also lived in France and Germany. She is a poet, novelist and essayist. Her debut novel
Reconnaissance (Penguin) won the 2000 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first novel in the South-East Asia and the Pacific. Her first book of poetry won the 1999 Montana Best First Book of Poetry. Her second novel is
Love in the Land of Midas (Penguin) and she was the 2002 New Zealand Cathay Pacific travel writer of the year. Her latest book of poetry is
Someone Else’s Life (Bloodaxe, 2003). In the last nine months, she has held the Creative NZ Berlin writer’s residency.
See also www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz/seeingvoices/kassabova.asp
Lying with the Ghosts of the House
Tonight is the longest night of the year.
We lie, obedient to the seasons
in the glow of street lamps,
beneath the outlines of things
that could be ours, some other time.
To the sound of snow falling,
we must sleep, again and again
like diving into the soft centre
of each separate life
we might’ve had.
Yesterday was the shortest day of the year -
a pale wing that beat just once
then fell into the twilight of three o’clock.
The snow has settled.
We can hear it growing old.
I say we but there is no one.
The neighbour upstairs has gone skiing.
The people across have turned off the light
in their children’s room.
The rest of the street is a museum.
Whoever else is here now
will be here tomorrow.
They are measuring the beats
of my remaining blood.
They quietly know something
I am afraid to ask.
Look: the poverty of rain
Let’s gather it in thimbles of patience
Then pour it out in the mud
We’ll count all the worlds
to which we’ll never go
We must remember – memory is hope.
But quietly, for words can cut out gaps in us
so wide, we’d find
too many bodies lying there
Forget, we must forget
the memories – they open up and blossom
like switch-blades in the guts
Look: this is the world we have
Too poor to hide in
Too dark to cross, too single to forget
© Kapka Kassabova 2003