Title: Sport 38

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2010, Wellington

Part of: Sport

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Sport 38: Winter 2010

Elizabeth Smither

page 108

Elizabeth Smither

Tony Hoagland farewells the poets

The Aldeburgh train has two carriages
and carries at least ten poets
scattered among the passengers.

The festival at Aldeburgh is over
and in several cars the poets have reached the station
in time to farewell their hosts with platitudes

(they are tired of words now and rest on platitudes)
and here comes the same fateful train they arrived on
less significant-seeming, smoking and grimy

and they travel backwards into the landscape
some poets facing the engine, some the reverse
because poetry has a place alongside other bodies.

But at King's Cross Tony Hoagland gathers them up.
He springs from the front carriage, bowing
and sweeping his arm like a hat

'Poets,' he declaims and looks fly his way
above the thundering feet. 'Poets'
and we are gathered before the blinding exits.

page 109

The nurses are coming

2.55 p.m. and a swing door opens
and five nurses in dark blue

mid-calf-length slacks and V-necked
tops adorned with silver watches

each with a sheet in her hand
detailing the last vital recordings

the progression of signs which they read
in a glance. In Room 5

all but one line is being taken out
and the morphine is two-hourly.

A head sinks into a little folded towel
deep in a pillow, like a snow angel

and the nurses walk, bunched together
down the polished linoleum, past

the open doors of the dire, not looking
yet, just walking, just coming on

the way stars come out, flicker
and gleam: We are here, we are arriving.