Title: Two Women

Author: Olwyn Stewart

In: Sport 16: Autumn 1996

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1996, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

Conditions of use



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Sport 16: Autumn 1996

Olwyn Stewart — Two Women

page 161

Olwyn Stewart

Two Women

It doesn’t bear thinking about—
a family tree cup up into matches
and struck one by one.

There’s a woman who stands
at the toll gate of the burning bridge—
spring sun bringing out
the red lights in her hair.

This woman has communication skills.
She’s attended a class in them,
speaks in a voice both caressing
and unassailable,
brooks no opposition—
rock still and still smiling
she watches while
another head explodes.
She’s a true professional.

There’s a rock in limbo,
and a woman, another woman,
poorer, shabbier, more torn,
stands on its pinnacle
leaning over backwards—

She’s going to fall!
She’s going to fall!

Voices echo
How long can you go!

page 162

There’s a fallen woman
who lifts the telephone
receiver with a lead-heavy hand,
tired by all the pushing
out of air
speech requires—

By day she walks the streets
stuffing junk mail into letterboxes
limping slightly,
thinking in French.

At night she drinks cheap vodka
and plays patience so often
cards come to life
in her hands.
She hates
the family of diamonds,
punishes them with dark cards
and cruel fates—
she’ll stuff up
a whole game for this—
is kind to spades,
who have seen
too much suffering already.
Hearts (gone soft with wishing)
and raffish ‘luck of the Irish’ clubs
combine to remind her,
with a faint ache,
of something almost remembered
like a word on the tip
of the tongue.

page 163

‘She’s letting herself go.
Her children are wildcats.
She needs budgeting advice.
She needs further counselling.
She needs to get herself a life,’
thinks the woman at the toll gate
of the burning bridge, flicking
at a mark on her skirt,

eye catching
through the blue window
a white helium balloon
spiralling high
on the sky tides.

And out-of-hand mad moon,
abandoning gravity.

A heavenly button,
pulling away,
coming undone.

The ghost of a carnival.

A soul on the run.