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Sport 4: Autumn 1990

Dinah Hawken

page 60

Dinah Hawken

The harbour is disappearing. It is giving up
all the decent distinction
between itself and the grey hills and sky.
But a line of light, a line of white hope has suddenly come
along the opposite shore, and now, since like everything
else it cannot last, it is leaving.

The karo has thrust one branch — which becomes four others,
the highest one with a green flower of leaves round
a white centre at the top — above the taupata.
It seems to be saying hooray, look at this,
wow, incredible, I've done it! It's not though
is it? It's not saying anything.

How can you wait quietly on this calm day
with rain falling straight down pounding nothing
but the odd light leaf on a soft stem standing
in the stillness? The scene is in grave danger.
The birds know that. How on earth can you settle into yourself
— like a small pond — when there's wind in the wings?

It's rarely a place for very low cloud but now
low cloud is singling it out, the highest hill, the one
where pine and bush and pylons are, the one
that gives the finest, widest view of
all, and how low cloud
is swirling over, round and down that one.

page 61

Having broken the argument down and down
we come to place in the text — a clearing —
where a man and a woman have unexpectedly met.
We have come to believe, remember, that one
is simply different from the other, as we have come
to believe that there is one and a host of gods.

How odd that there is no name for the place
above the poet's lovely upper lip
where fine stubble grows. He is wondering
as his fingertips flicker across it, and as he
deftly clenches his broad brow, what else he can say
to his cruel father and his cruel uncles.

The girlfriend of the editor is a writer but tonight
she is not writing. She is sitting on a high stool in a dark local pub
knitting. What she is knitting
— a metre wide in grey, mauve and black —
is her own soft scene of the crucifixion.

which is already curling up softly at the bottom.

He knows he will be hurt.
He knows he will be hurt.
He knows he will be hurt.
He knows he will be hurt.
He knows he will be hurt.
He knows he will be hurt.

page 62

She's a strange woman. You can see that.
She's trying to live all kinds of lives.
If you follow her, you'll be dashing off into the dense
crowd where a variety of hips are pushing past
under a variety of minds. She, herself, is able to give
birth, is free, and has a long cool view of time.

Being on the beach in the evening, admiring the vast
scene of the sea and the even vaster scene
of the sky where clouds like arrows are leading
everywhere          in it all
for once, she can see her place: barely
larger than a gull, heavier, and lacking grace.

She takes the hand that has been placed on her thigh.
She springs to her feet.
She flings the hand into the air.
She utters an earth-shattering cry.
She slices the air with her own hand.
The creature is sent hurtling back to its own world.

So — uncertain — she takes her life in her hands.
Her hands are trembling. A lattice of cracks appear
letting in light. And in the light she sees her life
so near to death that it could be death, and she knows
that the strange thrusting of her heart, allowing her trembling
hands to hold her life, is holding her from dropping it.