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Sport 10: Autumn 1993

♣ August Kleinzahler — Sunday, Across The Tasman

page 35

August Kleinzahler

Sunday, Across The Tasman

Big weather is moving over the heads.
Turrets and steeples jab up at it
and the bank towers stand rooted,
logos ablaze at the edge of the earth.

In a suburban church basement the AA faithful
are singing hymns of renewal, devotion
and praise. He struggles with his umbrella
and the lobby of the Art Deco theatre,

plaster Buddhas and kitsch arabesques
towering over the popcorn counter—
the Preservation Society's last, best stand.
Young couples walk past hand in hand

as golden oldies flood onto the sidewalk
from the sweat shirt emporium next door.
His heart bobs, a small craft
awash for a moment with nostalgia.

Bartók liked to pick out a folk melody
and set it, a jewel in the thick
of hammered discords and shifting registers:
not unlike this dippy Mamas and Papas tune

floating along nicely among the debris.
The rain turns heavy, and the first
of the night's wild southerlies keens through,
laying waste the camellia and toi toi.

page 36

He wonders how the islanders managed
in their outriggers; if they flipped
or rode it through, plunging
from trough to trough with their ballast

of hoki, maomao, cod. Time for a drink.
A feral little businessman shakes
the bartender's left breast in greeting,
amiably, old friends.
            Hi, Jack—she says.

Country people, he thinks, mistakenly.
The routines of home seem a lifetime away
and the scenes of his life rather quaint:
an old genre flick, never quite distinct

enough or strange to be revived
except on TV, and then only very late,

with discount mattress and hair transplant ads.