Title: Sport 38

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2010, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 38: Winter 2010

Helen Heath

page 101

Helen Heath

Night's Magic

Sir Isaac Newton (1643—1727)
'Newton was not the first of the age of reason:
he was the last of the magicians.'
John Maynard Keynes

When Isaac closes his eyes
he is hanging, arms outstretched
only faith keeps him
from falling—a magic trick.
In his left hand is the Book of Revelations
in his right, the Book of Nature,
written in geometry.

He opens his eyes to take note
of God's will in action. Observations
must be interpreted—
bodies in motion, fruit from the tree.

Reclusive, he experiments upon himself,
slides a bodkin into his eye socket
between eyeball and bone
until he sees severall white darke
& coloured circles.

Sibyls and Daemons
are still close enough
for him to hear their voices.
The sun rises so slowly it's too hard
to pick the moment of first light
or the last of the night's magic.

page 102

How he found her

He tells the legend
again, how they met
over the varsity
dissection table.
Did their hands touch?
Did he admire her
frown of concentration?
Did she call him
a buffoon, even then?
When did he know?

As he watched intently
her small fingers
peeled back the skin
and pinned it down,
exposing the muscle layer
then deeper to the organs,
pulling them out—
laying them on the table.

page 103


I am holding her hand when
the surgeon knocks and opens the door.

Over her legs a thin sheet,
ice chips dissolving in a paper cup.

She's bigger than her body. It has hardly anything to do
with her in the end—the distance between skin and self, endless.

I am stepping out into the morning
walking faster and faster, away.

page 104

Keeping quiet

I still imagine writing my name
on a piece of paper
and taping it to the underside of the clock
on the mantelpiece.
Wooden, with sloping shoulders coming down
from the curve of the face.
If I open the glass front and pull the hands
around with my finger
I'll make the time right.
If it's set to chime the sound
can be heard all through the house
and the pain vibrates in our chests.
So we keep it silent but all it would take
is a flick of a small metal switch.

page 105


It's always raining.
I'm always in the dining room
with the iron
listening to Joni Mitchell.
You are making your way
through the house
as always.

There are always
silverfish in the books
by the window seat
and the curtains
are that hand-painted orange
and brown colour and
was there green?

The sun is always shining
and we are in the garden.
I'm picking redcurrants,
you are looking for a rat
under the wood bin.
I always say
What if it's just a brick?