Title: Sport 17

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 1996, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 17: Spring 1996

Bernadette Hall

Bernadette Hall

page 133

On Hearing of Dominic's Birth

A syrupy flow pushes out
from the blue-jade body of the sea,
a high gloss on the white beach,

and black seal surfies ride it
out and little Dominic rode it too
till his heart beat

a deadly, thin tattoo and they had
to slit the astonishing globe
of his mother's skin and pull him
through the wringer.

I am jubilant. I am distraught,
my memory tugging like a hawk
at the carcass of a sheep
the children found lying head-
long down a yellow paddock,

the rubbery ring of her vulva
shrunk tight and dried as hard
as metal round the little black
claw of her stuck lamb's hoof

and her head thrown back
as if to choke down all the air
that hangs flamy over the city.

page 134

I cannot separate them out,
these endings and beginnings;
my mother's face, laid down
on the floor by her own strength,

discreet as always in this
profoundly private act, her dying,
the blood stopped purple in her lips,
her cheeks, her chin,

her mouth wide open
in a cry which only just now
can I think of as victory.

page 135

Glass Sonnet

She has lost track and she is his memory.
Everything is half and half, light, dark,
even the individual blades of grass
with their sharp crease. Thumbs locked,
fingers splayed, she plays a hawk's ragged
wings on the wall. She slips the shadow
of the Taizé candle. There is no holding
her. Hunched, rangy, grey maned,
she has made us put her in this small room.
Look at the hills, we say, look at the sky,
the clouds pouring over Flagstaff. But the view
is new and tedious. The city an egg carton.
A tiger has entered through a tiny wound
in her leg. There are chickens to slaughter.