Two Poems

Amanda Holiday

Poem for Nesyamun

‘Bed/bad’
the voice of Nesyamun
glottal frogged otherworldly
uttering 3000 years wayback
‘bed/bad bed   bād bĕd bad bed’
bitter tobacco bleat of muted curse
belched vowels blunted by rag and
bone and time and death
a coughed-up gag

‘bed bad’
hums the microphone
scientists listen, chilled
Nesyamun speaks at last
no sleeping beauty this
cracked and crooked refugee
crabby on his wake, his bed hard
the sleep too long, the pain
too great.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony: The Apparition 

Dust and sepia sand smear suck pockets in the sky
he prays   he prays   everyday praise
and hangs in a white sheet hammock   between knots
humming a slight swing back and forth

In the distance camels retch and fling
demand water   dates   fresh thyme
gold eyes fly in thin specks
on wind    from grain ticks.
and he looks and he looks

The world filters in and out
the dust storms through
his breath and he prays
Inshallah
He blinks   the tears come
Shame? Sorrow

and there at last hovering above him
huge  —  tumescent, nasal
flare of black nostrils open
breathing down on him
breathing him in
breathing his breath
senseless

and he shivers

Amanda Holiday was born in Sierra Leone and moved to the UK at the age of five. She completed a degree in Fine Art at Wimbledon and exhibited in shows nationally before moving into film & scriptwriting. Between 2001-10 she lived in Cape Town where she wrote and directed several educational television series. Her chapbook ‘The Art Poems’ was published in April 2018 as part of New Generation African Poets. She completed the Poetry MA at UEA with Distinction in 2019 and has poems due in publications internationally. She lives in South London with her teenage daughter.

 

*Image Courtesy Leeds Museums and Galleries