Sport 9: Spring 1992
♣ Bill Manhire
He sings you are my sunshine
and the skies are grey, she tries
to make him happy, things
just turn out that way.
She'll never know
how much he loves her
and yet he loves her so much
he might lay down his old guitar
and walk her home, musician
singing with the voice alone.
Oh love is sweet and love is all, it's
evening and the purple shadows fall
about the baby and the toddler
on the bed. It's true he loves her
but he should have told her,
he should have, should have said.
Foolish evening, boy with a foolish head.
He sighs like a flower above his instrument
and his sticky fingers stick. He fumbles
a simple chord progression,
then stares at the neck.
He never seems to learn his lesson.
Here comes the rain. Oh if she were only
sweet sixteen and running from the room again,
and if he were a blackbird
he would whistle and sing
and he'd something
something something something.
The big stage and golden curtain,
stars high up in the ceiling: one of
the few films I think he would have seen.
The sound of violins, then darkness
about the wide, white screen. I can hear
the sound of my father coughing.
Between the cough and the howl
hunger goes missing. It was in the oven,
then on the table, then nowhere at all.
Oh, I'm sorry, a friend just came in.
Yes, a friend came into the room and smiles.
He smiled and shows his terrific teeth.
Just kidding, he says, a wee surprise . . .
And indeed he was smiling already.
A boy getting pleasure
from holding a razor,
the glimpse of a life to come
where he foams and watches
himself grow wise in the mirror,
that is one thing. But
I do not know whether
the boy I imagine
is a real boy
or is me or my father
or even my son.
I suppose it must
at least be one
of us three, trying to forget
the facts of his life
in whatever he can't forget,
and still finds hard to see.
Now memory (a sudden breath)
lifts me on to the swing, and I swing
by myself, sensing behind me
someone who is happy
(like me), a bit pushed for time,
or pushed beyond time—
someone still pushing
who used to be pushing.