Title: Lunch Taker


In: Sport 31: Spring 2003

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 2003

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

Conditions of use



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Sport 31: Spring 2003

Lunch Taker

page 52

Lunch Taker

She's a lunch taker; every morn
she peers through the window at the skimming moon,
Ah! it's a sourdough roll, still warm
and perfectly formed on the tray of the wind.

She reaches out a hand. All the chimneys
are jugs of milk, creaming, bland. Hot rain
again, and in the grill of the street
a biscuit stand. In a doorway, smoky walnut

and marzipan. She looks skyward for final crumbs.
She would live inside this paper bag
breathing its breath, its bruised perfume.
Today is Good

Friday—that means hot cross buns.
Mid-morning she breaks
and passes some round, bundles of brown,
such a row of prayerful heads bending down …

No one wants them
Bob pouts on his fag and waves his hands
as if that smoke is trying to talk to him
and Elsie just sits there with her damned ring on.

She eats three. She walks
to the bathroom. Inside is mild, white-lidded shame
holding her eyes, taking her time.
She crosses her arms. Not yet lunchtime.

page 53

According to one magazine
The P epidemic is claiming the nation.
It keeps the young young and the girls
thin, it keeps them up till noon

the next morning, dancing, eyes stuck like bowls
of half-formed gelatin; it hems hunger in
to the smallest cell
while the arms reach endlessly forward, bone

white necks of swans, or children
who never learned to swim.
She gives in. At the wharf she queues for ice-cream.
Her navy tights have seas inside them, glinting

in the broken sun. Nutty Crunch, Flaky Nut,
Easter Mountain Top, and I will marry the ice-cream man
dressed in dairy-whip white.
He holds out her cone with a see-saw grin.

She spends the last third of her half-hour with her chin
propped over faux-porcelain.
Her eosophagus bucking, then relaxing
like the back of a knee giving in. The day can be seen

in the gradations of colour that come.
Her face falls
and falls all afternoon
she catches sight in passing: pink rimmed

woman, eyes dark slots in the coin-box
of her lids. Her mouth
creeping like a slater
into the old folds of her skin.

page 54

According to another magazine, war is hell.
Kiwis are in space, en route to the moon. Nobody has
any imagination. Caffeine strips the delicate membrane
of everything. Words are like jumping beans, shiny, frightening;

the pages finally settle
around the room. She sits at the table
opposite ghosts who won't stop eating.
She does not see the raining Quay

nor the hands with change in them. In tunnels
on the cable car, her reflections replay,
again and again. She wishes to eat them
and be done.