Sport 35: Winter 2007
No one could fear me—lean cow, an ugly face.
It's frustrating having a taste for something so rare.
I'm allergic, I like to say, to the common.
In the evening a wife pulls Gladwrap over a plate.
She catches the steam and is delicious
to watch doing the dishes.
Later, there's a wooden clock opposite
where she sits reading a book.
Her eyes never rise from the page.
I can only stomach women blessed with virtue.
Just as I rise on my hind hooves, she folds
the corner of her page, and checks her watch.
Not ruined, just beyond her best.
I plan where to start—nose up the tartan skirt,
tear the pantihose off the buttocks.
Headlights flood the driveway. She stands.
I wish I were closer—the only way to tell if a wife is ripe
is to check the face.
She puts the plated meal in the microwave
and pours a glass of wine. Her manicured nails
canter slightly on the bench.
I wait and wait for her to falter, to hurl the wine glass
at his head, drop the plate. But she is good and patient,
giving up the best chair, reapplying her lipstick.
He eats and reads the paper. She goes back to her book,
looking up every now and then
to see if he's finished.
My breath fogs the window pane; I listen to her kind words
and salivate—Darling, she says, shall we go to bed?
There's water running in the bathroom, cupboards opening and shutting.
Inside, I follow them upstairs, watch the man fold back the duvet
and climb into bed, watch the wife slowly brush her long hair.
When the lights are switched off, I lose all restraint and rush.
The writer lay in bed wondering
if he'd ever write as well as Raymond Carver.
It had bothered him all afternoon after a disappointing day
writing sentences like 'Jeremy felt a sense of anguish'
and 'the stars had disappeared, the night was darkening'.
Swigging a beer under a woollen blanket in front of the TV,
alone with the big-eared mouse, he watched the six o'clock news,
considering whether the mother and daughter who had signed the pact
to kill each other after killing their husband and father
had walked into the sea until their feet were floating
page 34 or if it had been different. I feel bad that I don't write well
the writer thought, but not that bad. He ate powdered soup for dinner,
reading Raymond Carver and listening to the mouse eating Kettle Fries.
He'd set a trap to kill it after finding shit on his potatos
which he kept under the sink,
but he liked the company, in a way.
What would Carver do? the writer thought constantly.
Carver doesn't say anything unnecessary.
And, he knows how to write an opening sentence.
I've seen some things, too, but I never get them right.
The writer slept until the trap broke the mouse's leg.
'Jesus,' he said, 'you poor little bastard, why didn't it get your neck?'
'Help me,' the mouse said, trying to bite his fingers, 'it wasn't me
crapping all over your vegetables, I wouldn't do that.'
The writer dithered, trying to decide how to finish the animal off.
'We're going outside,' he'd said, picking up the broken mouse by its trap.
They went to the bucket overflowing with rain water.
He dropped the wooden trap but it floated.
'I'm too young to die,' said the mouse, but the writer ignored it,
pushing the trap down with a brick, until the mouse drowned.
When he pulled it out, he was astonished at the transformation.
The big ears had melted into the slime of fur that stuck to the base
of the wormy tail. If mice have souls
they certainly make a difference to their appearance
the writer decided, chucking the body behind his broccoli plants.
She has emerged from the bamboo forest
with a white, fleshy-petalled flower
and her gun.
Save the country,
save the youth
She is supposed to say
because she is young and solid looking.
She looks out at her admirers
and critics, distracting them with her stare,
the clever pattern in her headscarf,
that poorly foreshortened thumb
and dark pink fist.
She is flat and smooth.
Foreigners smile at her,
wanting to look good.
Duong Ngoc Canh painted me
in 1945. Then someone else
carved my image in wood
and multiplied me.
I was all over the city,
flapping against plane trees
and rolling down the street
with other rubbish.
Not quite immortal or free from aging
I was still luckier than most
for I had hundreds and hundreds
The way you shed eyelashes and skin,
I let my replicas go painlessly.
Somewhere in the city, a printing press
was constantly replacing
what I'd lost.
He admires her elegance,
that crisp feline stare,
her constantly changing surveillance
over the tiny gallery's entrance.
It's not his first visit here.
But still, he admires the elegance
page 37 of his situation, the quiet insistence
of her gun (the same black as her hair).
Her constantly changing surveillance,
warm then cold; if only he could rinse
himself in her stare.
He admires her elegance.
To him, the print's
worth more than American dollars just for
that constantly changing surveillance.
They leave the shop together, an odd pair—
her tucked under his arm with a look of despair.
Him, admiring the elegance
of her constantly changing surveillance.
People like to be looked at,
especially by beautiful eyes.
But only up to a point.
are no longer open
to critique, which is why
you should stare secretly. Why
believe me? I have experience at
observing. My eyes are always open.
At times I hate my wide painted eyes,
though I'm becoming wiser. They,
I now realise, give my life a point.
That gun slung over my shoulder, the point
of the barrel behind my headscarf. Why,
that's no weapon. My hands are frozen. They
could never pull a trigger. Now, look at
the magnolia between my fingers, my eyes
can't see it. They only stare out, wide open—
immutably, frustratingly open.
An artist carved them with the point
of his tiny print knife, thinking, 'eyes
as beautiful as a cat's. Why
not?' Carefully prepared, I ended up at
the gallery, alone with my sight. They,
the art dealer and her daughter, sold me. They
made twenty US dollars from a man with an open-
mouthed smile. He seemed to stare at
everything. Cycling us through Hanoi, he pointed
out the lake, as if he knew I could see. Why
he understands me I can't say. But his eyes
are so glad—pale-lashed, green eyes—
that I forget to question his awareness. They
flatter me, sympathise, know why
it's hard to be always open
to malice, accepting it wide-eyed; that's my point.
I am obliged to look out at
my viewers, constantly, eyes open
like a clear conscience. The man realises this point;
he needs to look at me, and to be looked at.