Title: Sport 2

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, April 1989, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 2: Autumn 1989

Elizabeth Knox

page 105

Elizabeth Knox

from The Treasury

When any two people make love, there are at least four other people in the room with them

There are five people in the room with us when we make love: my mother and father, your mother and father, and the woman you once lived with.

My father and yours are talking, sounding each other out. My father is less attentive to the conversation, and uncomfortable; your father reminds him of police, priests, and teachers. Your father thinks the room is untidy.

My mother is watching us, proud of me and pleased to let me go. She wears gloves to scatter petals of blessing over our bodies, saying, 'Enjoy yourselves.' I don't care to leave my book and stop little Katherine from pasting torn drawing paper to the wall with her spit — let her father deal with her.

Now my father is knitting bridal veils to cover us. Knitting isn't something he is good at. He casts (me) off and drapes his head with the small sampler — a bird asleep in a covered cage.

Your mother is looking out the window. She thinks she sees you on the lawn, reading a book — an eleven-year-old with gate-post legs. She doesn't recognise the man on the bed.

The woman you lived with has a leaf-mister that she sometimes aims at us, spraying your genitals with icy water.

page 106


Determined to enable herself, to have her body's outline completed and coloured-in by others' desirous touches, she threw back your lid and rummaged through the costumes you offered, playing dress-up, parading — Romantic Artist, Woman-of-Sorrows, Queen-of-the-Night.

Her body a tempt-all. Her backside rose window letting in the light, her red mouth rose window sucking staining lollies, a family recipe of four flavours — mystery, vivacity, tragedy, turmoil. She voided sugary breath, she effused. Her letters were spendthrift declarations: Now we have a very deep, calm love. . . Trying it on, a child with teddy-guests and plastic tea-set, pouring out — playing my civility, your society.

She was insolvent. Her 'I lOve yoU's didn't cheque out. But she did — dishonoured, her account in arrears, her debts to honesty fallen due. Your smudged-picture sweetheart, who couldn't come to the party or fit her clothes.

Wet dreams. Fallen dew. Night omissions.

page 107


I will come to live with you. I'll remember to replace the cutlery all facing the same way in the drawer; and after rinsing the tomatoes, I'll wipe them dry; I will not snib the door, you won't find it open after we've been out all day. And I'll dust the top of your turntable and the base of your standing-lamp, and wash the scales of dirt from your neglected navel.

Every week, I'll give you this dream: You are screwing her, then she softens suddenly and your limbs sink through her as she falls apart like fresh, wet trifle. You stagger up, her flesh dropping from you. I find you, and wash off the other woman. Then I fold your big body, like the Pieta, across my spread legs, my arms bracing your lax neck and knees, and massage the hairy crease between your anus and balls till your penis fills like a watered, water-starved fuchsia stem and spills its beads of oil into my busy palm.

You will wake wanting me — the centre; a safe, thrilling place. The future, home and frontier.

page 108

Have You Not Known? Have You Not Heard?

Warmth, silk of perpetually wet flesh, the rough knap in a tongue's hollow

am lying with my legs wrapped around you, one thigh in the soft indentation of your stomach, a joist beneath your body's bridge. The minutes of this age, Afterwards, are as close-fitting, as clear, as air. I know accurately all your scents and textures — the oily sheen on your back and neck, your hair curling, not wayward but exact — as a river is exact, obedient to gravity and the stones of its bed. Your cushiony flesh, taut muscle-tone of arousal gone, its smell — sweat, oil, soap — a feast. You rest your forehead against mine, lashes lowered, face weightless, the spin of the earth reversed. In love, in the love-act, recognising each other — making a positive ill. (I do.) And, breathing your breath, breathing together, the air in my face blowing out of your mouth is sweeter, more invigorating, than the air in the room

(Love fills my mouth, fresh, acidulous, and I am forced to spit it out)

said it. It is a closed book, print kissing between its covers. My love is a papered-over pit.