Title: The Singer

Author: Andrew Johnston

In: Sport 21: Spring 1998

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, October 1998, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

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Sport 21: Spring 1998

Andrew Johnston — The Singer

page 86

Andrew Johnston

The Singer

In the photograph on the back cover
of the singer's first album for seven years
he looks out through a rain-streaked window—
one half of his face,
blurred, smiles; the other,
troubled, is clear. He's turning away

slightly, as if to turn away
from himself. If you cover
one side of a photograph, then the other,
you sometimes see two people, years
of differences between them, the face
like hills at dawn from the window

of a plane. The singer leans on the window-
sill, awkward, staring. You look away,
recognising in the expression on his face
how imperfectly you can ever cover
the actual with the imagined self, despite years
of acting naturally: slips of the tongue, other

turns of phrase, add up to another
story. Through the shop window
an unfamiliar city lights up. For years
you stayed; how many went away
before you began to discover
you needed the same? And had to face

page 87

admitting that one side of your face
was deep in debt to the other,
that cantilevered promises could never cover
the distance from harbour window
to the view itself, a world away.
The singer's gaze surprises: the years

you loved his songs for their innocence were the years
you believed in your own; now his face
says: Everything can be taken away.
One bright eye resembles the shaded other
but neither is the window
of the soul; the glance is finally opaque, a cover-

ing. And the soul? Watch the face of another
watching you, for years; there's a chance you'll discover,
singly, or together (and it will be worth it) a way to open the window.