Title: Sport 10

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, May 1993, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 10: Autumn 1993

♣ Gregory O'Brien

page 86

Gregory O'Brien

One Among Many

They all look eighteen,
indifferent, their cats playing
among driftwood,

their rust-coloured town.
As a garden cultivates
calm, certain

paints and repaints
these walls,

the sky up and
knocks it down.

If they don't look
eighteen, they probably are
eighteen, in their

damned old town.
If they awaken at four,
their yellow hair

is knotted
so they sleep
until seven

page 87

then enter
each corridor, flowing,
without complication.

What they add
to this house, their
windows among us,

cultivating these
plains, certain rooms
belonging to

swans. And you,
also, look eighteen,
out on your

western wing,
walking the quiet voices
of the verandah,

your hair like dust in
sunlight, reminding us of
the one thing.

page 88

'The Spirit of the Realm of Flowers'

for Mark Strange and Lucy Alcock

Old river-beaten hulls,
the child-nun and her cripples.
They slept in a boatshed

a hundred years
outstretched, reminded
of breezes,

the bend where the road
rolled over in its sleep,
fell into the river,

long tables of breakfast
cherries. Our father says
the rapids—he is

possessed by them—
from Pipiriki to Jerusalem,
they are our ancestors

talking among themselves.
And Grace is a long, high
room, let us

defend its fire-
places, mirrored floors.
Evening paddling

page 89

towards Jerusalem, water
bearing its lilies, its scars—
river enough

for us—where
the landscape shrugs
a gravel road

off its back.
We are blessed and
we are gone.

The Ten Most Beautiful Women in the World

Flying junk, clouds thrown from the tops
of buildings, where we find ourselves

lost between uncomfortable bars, the moon clearing
a patch beneath our skin, a longing

or long arcade where we search our pockets
to find a coin small enough for a rusted slot-

machine, a converted pinball or one-
armed bandit. We have not seen our mother

in eleven months, but have lately found
The Ten Most Beautiful Women in the World

in 3D. A shutter twitches, and night outside
becomes night inside their hotel or

page 90

emporium. A coin drops into the upholstered
darkness. The machine's two eyes

staring into our two eyes. Then, faded
into her background, (1) a woman

in a vast bikini, c. 1950, only the pink material
remaining, brighter than ever,

hovering, almost, in space. (2) following: a lime-
green outfit, the colour touched

by hand. A fizzing bulb has faded (4), (5) and (7)
completely. (6) has melted down. Only the

artificial colours remain, these costumes like
flags of modesty. (10) dissolves into milk,

then a shutter snaps. And it is night again
inside The Ten Most Beautiful Women in the World.

page 91

Wall, Paper, Artist

They were overjoyed
to hold you, to have you
in their hands, those

proud dolls
swaying on their

pedestals. They were
startled, as the bee's
affectionate jostling

on a windy stem, not yet
back from the dead, dozing
past, following downriver

the heart-burst capes.
Your children possessed you.
They were not yet born.

Neither were you.
The river hungered for
its pale relatives, their

warm-breathed schedules,
their eyes—bells ringing
out of the blueness.

They were to be born
next week, or allow themselves
longer. Now they lie

page 92

with, their outlines
traced by it, their love
and wait, as the lights

on the south-
bound train wait,
for no one.


Inside the leaf
another love

leafs between its
moist pages,

trees drowning in
their sky,

a whisper, a trout
leaping, among

friends, 'Mr ———
is a

complete stranger,
completes me . . .'