Sport 7: Winter 1991
♣ Peter Bland
Fucking—in print—hasn't been invented
and the clitoris is a rumour vague
as Atlantis ... no one knows where it is.
In Seatoun zoo the last orangutan
freezes to death in an open cage
with a sack pulled over its head.
Entrails from a Hutt Valley abattoir
foul summer beaches. The sea is red
with wounded Moby Dicks. Death's
rich: both priests and backstreet abortionists
lay down the ground rules for a life without sin.
Up on The Terrace escaped Nazis teach Nietzsche
while down in the harbour refugee ships
bring more walking wounded from exhausted Europe
to till fresh fields and play their violins.
(What's local has got a fist like an All Black
and downs ten )jars between five and six.)
But the scent of something more than meanness
is blowing in with the Cook Strait wind:
poets are beginning to burn their soap-box
while girls with pony-tails kick their heels
to rhythms that are more than meek. In
fugged-up coffee bars 'the young and restless'
light black candles and plan their escape.
The Statue of Queen Victoria (with pout
and hooded lids) still sees
'a home away from home'. . . neat lawns,
a gravel path, English flowers,
and the one big gun—dreams of Dear Albert—
that continually threatens to overbalance
and topple into the town. 'Well worth
a brief visit,' the guide-book says,
with a warning re muggers and 'the growing threat
of sitting unshaded in our southern sun.'
Further advice hurries over a history
dependent on imported blood,
suggesting we 'take a short-cut down
to the business district' (a photo shows
a forty-foot Santa on Farmers store
winking like a dirty old man). For some
the park is 'a place apart' (note
the lovers and drunks) but for most
it's an open space to be crossed
without looking back—stopping
just long enough to scoff
a Big Mac or re-set one's watch
by the scented ticking of a marigold clock.
Meanwhile, in the pause between then and now
(as preserved in the bronze folds
of a dead Queen's dress)
a bellbird explores varieties of silence
and harbour-sounds drift cautiously inland
like echoes of old arrivals and departures
scattered in the new-mown grass.