Guests from Down Below – For Tanya

When you tell me that your father died last week, you wrap it
in between a Merry Christmas, and apologies for the delay.
It is a systematic calculation: four lines, sandwich-stacked and
pressed. You are careful not to let it breathe too wide. I remember

asking Death to come inside. The first time, he was careful
not to wake the house, knocked his marble knuckles only
on my window. All I wanted was to crawl back into bed — hazy
like a toddler after napping on the sofa. The second time,

he made a point of nail screeching, car alarm howling,
racket-and-bang smashing every pot onto the cold white tiles.
Long after he has gone, my ears are still ringing and I still scrub grief
off the kitchen floors. Even after all his visits, people still pretend

Death is elegant and floats with purpose. He is neither
and both. What I am saying is, I wanted to prepare you for the visit.

In the morning, on autopilot, you will fold your father’s suits with the precision of a pastry chef, filo dough and dust, pile and stack the bags
along the corridor. I want Vienna to leave you undisturbed
inside your perfect loop, your factory worker coma. In the afternoon,

a stray alarm will jolt you into thinking you don’t know what day it is.
It is a Thursday, and Death is pruning all the tree suckers.

Yanita Georgieva

Yanita Georgieva is a BBC Radio journalist and poetry writer based in Scotland. She grew up in Beirut and keeps finding bits of it everywhere she goes. Her work has featured in Lebanese and British publications including Rusted Radishes and Pushing Out the Boat.

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