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Sport 35: Winter 2007

Charlotte Simmonds

page 26

Charlotte Simmonds

… and We All Discuss Cocteau Films

First there is you.
And you take off your coat.
No, wait, you put it back on again.

No. First there is the woman,
with the large red beads.
She fingers them cautiously.
No, she does nothing of the sort.
She admires my flowers.
I say nothing.

No, first there is me, in my house.
The others will arrive later,
but you arrive before any of them.
I am the first.
It is my house.

No, I come home to find you on my sofa.
You are there before me, taking off your coat.
No, your coat is already off.
I find you on my sofa,
drinking coffee from my coffee cup.
You make to move, suddenly.
You make to put your coat back on.

Stop. I say.
(Do I?)
Stop, I say. Don't go.
page 27 (The woman with the beads will arrive soon. Later, the others.)

You have moved into my house.
There is two of everything.
We are selling a fridge and a washing machine.

First there is me,
and my admirable flowers.
Next there is you,
and coffee stains on the carpet.

I don't remember leaving the door unlocked.
I don't remember a woman with cautious red beads.

page 28

The Moon is Upside Down

The winter approaches on four feet,
softly, with clear-cut skies and constellations I do not recognise.

I remember going to sleep on a rock in the snow wearing nothing but a singlet and my boots.

The moon here is upside down.

I remember the faces of my rescue team.
I remember the rescue team but I do not remember the endless faces of an unending team of rescue.

Marama is here a woman like nowhere else on earth.

I remember the unending teams of rescue one year after the next.

The moon here is upside down and each day a simple cigarette becomes a more trying act of will and determination.
First the stockings.
Then the long sleeved underwear.
Long trousers, a hoodie, a jacket, my scarf, boots, boots for the children, jackets for the children, fingerless gloves for cigarette rolling fingers, hats for the children.
Another sock.

The constellations are strange and unfamiliar and the winter approaches on four softly padded feet, quiet like a dog in the snow.

I remember the fire and the rows of books that I saw as I slept in the snow.
I remember one winter after another with more rescue teams than you, even you, with all your maths and learning, could possibly count.
Cigarettes become harder and harder.
page 29 You, with all your maths. There is so much of it.
Me, with my cigarette. Is it really worth it?
Are you?

In these hardened days and abrasive clean-cut nights, your smoke-filled room looms a haven, broad on the edge of a harbour.
I dream of smoky harbours sunk deeply into dusky Autumns.
I dream of fireplaces in the snow alongside rows and rows of books.
I dream of you.
Are you then the man of my dreams?
I dream of cigarettes and Marama and wonder, is it really worth it?

I Didn't Know What Else to Do

That one autumn in Copenhagen, the leaves fell like nothing I'm familiar with.
It frightened me somewhat and I preserved silence when you shouted at me.

Coming home drunk to wake me up at two in the morning.
Ringing home drunk to wake me up at three.
What was I to do?

That one autumn in Copenhagen I felt up to my neck in leaves.
I felt I was drowning in them.
They were everywhere and not even there to be played amongst.
Every kick with a foot would unearth an empty packet of chips, yet another beaten, battered Coke bottle.

You did not beat me or batter me but you emptied me like a packet of chips.
What was I to do?
page 30 'I need space!' you yelled.
'I know you do!' I said, being as bitterly understanding as I could.
'Jeez!' you screamed. 'Will you just stop accusing me all the time?'
I offered to sleep on the ground, amongst the leaves, but we were drinking too much, smoking too much, leaving too much behind.
What was I to do?

The house was filled with smoke. Even my dreams were murky and fog-ridden.
The smoke hung in the air, in my clothes, in the leaves, in my dreams and in your voice. It would not dissipate.
I opened the window to let it out, but more smoke rolled in off the horizon, bringing with it leaves and empty chip packets, beaten and battered Coke bottles.

I offered to sleep on the ground, amongst the leaves, but you swore and emptied me of myself like I was cheap junk food.

We threw over food, work and reasonability for leaves, smoke and arguments. You needed a space which I could not give you. We were leaving all the time.

That one autumn in Copenhagen, when I lay close to your smoky sides for fear of the leaves …
that one autumn in Copenhagen, when you slept for two weeks without moving or making a sound …
that one autumn in Copenhagen, when I gave you my language and would gladly have taken yours …
that one autumn in Copenhagen, when you believed in science and I did not and you believed in a soul mate which I was not…
What was I to do?

That one autumn in Copenhagen was the one autumn where I left you for a leafless winter who loved me more than you. I finally left you and you did not even say goodbye.

page 31

I am a Man of Many Professions,
My Wife is a Lady of Many Confessions

I am a carpenter,
I carpent this wood.
I bore nails and nests in the chests of my trees.

My wife is a woman,
she womans this hood.
She bore children and nests in the chests of her soul.

I am a husbandman,
I husband my resources.
I keep children and money and the nests of bees.

My wife has a husband,
she husbands him well.
Our nest is well-stocked with bread, butter and coal.

I am a hunter,
in the Bavarian woods.
I pluck stags and hares from their nests in the grasses.

My wife is a gutter,
she guts a good duck,
and into the nest of her ears I pour all of my muck.

I am a fisher,
on the Sicilian shores,
I net cold cod and gannets, a roe nest if it passes.

My wife is a shagger,
she has a pet shag.
If it dives for the whiting, then in bed I'm in luck.