Sport 40: 2012
I need my trousers. I need to slouch
on something soft. The room is empty
except for a clothes-horse on its side
and another, unclothed, saluting.
I slide down the wall, it’s hot. The room
is too small. Everything is white. Bottles
of wine spill on the ﬂoor. Who did this?
Wine pooling, but solid, like jelly. And sweat.
Everything is sweating, the walls, my hair
even the clothes racks are wet. Dripping
like wild animals, hot and wet and tired.
At breakfast I sign for my chinos
on an electronic pad. Are those ﬂowers for me?
she asks. We both laugh and I love the way
and again, the way she cups her hand
over her mouth like something not like her
wants to escape. I pull at stretchy plastic, she sips
her coffee and taps the newspaper. A hole appears
and I slide the trousers out, they are folded
neatly, ironed with lavender and soap.
I hear the door slam, the car engine, that faint
squeal of brakes that only her car with its oscillating
clamour, its start-up shudder, coughing and smoking, the web
of scratches in gold paint, mustard undercoat, mustard
interior, fermented apples, greasy paper, sweating,
a cheese sandwich in glad-wrap, silicone, a netball
rolling in the boot, sweating, down the street I hear a thud
and then a roll and then the slow phish of escaping air.
The batteries in my torch are old
and fading fast. I focus the beam
to a slim yellow swathe and swing it
from path to grass, to trees. Gulls
and parrots rustle and grumble
in the branches of creaky pines.
It is less frightening with the torch
switched off. I stop when I see a branch
or a leaf in the shape of a something.
As we arrived on the island
Matt the Park Ranger greeted us
in Te Reo. He has long blonde hair
and a Maori independence ﬂag
in the window of his hut.
He knows all the names
of the Ewoks. He tells us
what to look for when we go out
at night, tuatara and giant weta,
the cows of the insect world
and little blues who sometimes
forget where the sea is.
He says it’s pretty spiritual
when a falcon drops by.
At a sharp bend near the end
of the walk a shape appears
on the path, it is unmistakably
a penguin, We are both
stopped, listening in the dark
like icebergs. I can just make out
wedge-shaped feet, the tip
of a wing loose at its side,
a small beak, turning left,
page 96 turning right, in my direction,
in the direction of a manuka bush.
A cloud passes over and when
the moon ambles back the little
penguin has gone.
On the way back I see Matt
through the window of his hut,
lights blazing, he leans back
in an old tartan armchair
with his eyes closed.
I swish away the air. I sit here.
This is Wellington, I insist this is
my puddle on a stick, my wet foot
sandwich. I walk to Brooklyn,
all it takes is one step after another
and you’re there. I mean I’m here,
you’re there. This is what the air
will do, a fuzzy brain, impending rain.
This is a gang of rag-time hoodlums.
This is my city awash with friends.
Welcome little words
how do you do what you do?