Midnight Lexicon

She wakes in the night, the word
zest in her mind. It moves
to her tongue through a thick blur
of sleep, hisses and frets,
will not be dislodged.

Are you back? she mutters,
life’s so dull without you.
I’ve signed no petitions; abandoned
the tango; stayed mute
when incensed.

She fears she’ll lose it again
it might disappear,
might sink in the cache
of midnight promise that turns
to dust in morning light.

She could sit up
and search for a pen,
write it down, make sure
it stays. Zest
she says clearly, its life

on her tongue,
grated and fragrant,
citrus tinged,
zest she whispers
and tastes its return.

Gillian Telford


Gillian Telford is a New South Wales poet with work widely published in anthologies and journals, and twice short-listed for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. She has two published collections: Moments of Perfect Poise (Ginninderra Press 2008) and An Indrawn Breath (Picaro Press 2015).

© 2018