mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 17: Spring 1996

The Assumption of Mr Dickson into the Order of Domestic Cats

page 17

The Assumption of Mr Dickson into the Order of Domestic Cats

at midday exact, I went back inside.
Choosing clothes took time, but after a smoke
and most of a bottle of Mouton Rothschild
I settled for the Company's normal outfit
a silk zingari-richmond tie, a white linen suit
and its latest fashion, a pair of bare feet.
For a time, I sat out on the terrace.
A clock ticked, a cat meowed, a cloud
clouded the sun. The clock ticked, the cloud
passed on, and the cat meowed yet again, and just
as I was thinking, The future? Ah yes, the future
the continuities changed to a singular point.
Shall I go? Shall I stay? I wriggled my toes.
How easy it is to squander existence

the afternoon was warm like a blue oboe
so I straightened my tie and set off
down the track called Stuart Street.
Near the Exchange, I heard voices—those
of the merchants who traded tv's, cars, and land
for muskets, beads, and prayer books.
And sure enough, there they were.
They shouted, they winked, they smiled
displaying their perfect teeth in a carnival
of beguiling gestures. For like the crowd
they wanted to go home, embark
page 18 on the waiting schooners, and sail back
to where life was much more simple

at the Captain Cook Tavern, the crowd
was somewhere else. Mainly middle managers
the Company had no further use for
they were dressed in grass skirts, and all
were swaying to a hooba hooba band
their pupils dilating to blindness
when the suave trombones swelled
to an indolent crescendo. I've forgotten now
why I permitted my feet to tap in time.
Perhaps, it was the opaque heaviness of the air
or a sudden rupture of all memory
the bush taking plankton before max
constantly floating his equations into the
prolix foliage of her muesli eating tusk
as if watering tuataras with a sour apple
and back came I my senses to, and yet again
I'd missed my chance. The schooners had left.
According to the usual suspect information
spread as word by those in charge
when everyone has finally disembarked
amongst their dreams of winding rivers
and forests bright with the plumage of parrots
they live in paradise like happy clouds
in an otherwise blue sky.
While I never say a thing, that's a lie.
When they wake, they're ambushed
by the challenge of nothing at all

page 19

of course, there was always work.
Whenever I see a gull's feather twirling
in an updraft of air, at intervals of ten seconds
I'm obliged to plot on graph paper
the various positions of its fall, joining
each point with a line that gives no idea
of the prodigious entanglements of its movement.
And no mistakes. Though why is beyond me.
What I knew was this: follow instructions.
But these days, my neurons were wearing out
the electro-chemical pulses going in
directions they weren't supposed to.
Like everyone else, I could go on the schooners
or, like a last freedom, I could choose
smaller and smaller intervals than the
one required, the slope of the graph
increasing to infinity until I met
a feather's shadow on the lawn below

I turned the handle and let myself in
leaving the door wide open to the stillness.
In the lounge, delicate cups on a tray
and the sound of a distant footstep.
I stood by a window as twilight came.
A flush of blood coloured silence deepened the sky.
Shall I go? Shall I stay?
I began to hum a tune from La Bohème.
My indecision was final

page 20

no, it wasn't like that at all.
When a cloud had clouded the sun
and an easterly breeze from the harbour
was rustling the leaves of a laburnum tree
a tom cat walked across the terrace.
It stopped, and began licking a paw.
Hey you, I'd called, don't you realise
we have a future as sly and innocent words?
The cat stopped licking its paw.
We exchanged a look of mutual forgiveness