Marty Smith

Cúchulainn wins the Great Northern

Nuns keep arriving
— in waves, in clouds
of stiff little veils
Sister Cornelius
Mother Crucentia
Sister Ignatius
of the Little Sisters
come to bless him, Cúchulainn
and get the good oil
from broken-tooth Finbar Leahy.

In shrouds of sun, the veils of God
at the front of the tote.
Cool fingers
rosaries, reliquary objects
Cúchulainn’s at any old odds:
the nuns put it all on the nose
glide, all cobalt grace.
The crowd steps away
to let them right up to the rail.

Two and a half miles
of mud and ice
beautiful to watch
over five-foot fences
Cúchulainn reaches for pure speed
tears free
of the slowed-down air
Leahy’s swinging on him
you can mortgage the house
put it all on
They’re going hard —
at the 500
the Lord opens up a gap
Leahy gets a Red Sea run
Cúchulainn’s clearing out

The sisters raise their hands
leap in the air
bits of hair fly loose
he’s got up and dropped them
Shut the gate — the bird has flown!

Pink suffuses her face,
Sister Mary Martin de Porres.
She kisses her tickets.

Finbar Leahy salutes the judge
tips his face to God
after kissing the horse.

Hinemoana Baker (audio)
James Brown (audio)
Rachel Bush (audio)
Jen Crawford
Emily Dobson
Megan Johnson
Andrew Johnston
Stefanie Lash
Anna Livesey
Stephanie de Montalk
Marty Smith  
Elizabeth Smither
Cath Vidler
Sue Wootton
Sonja Yelich

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