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Sport 19: Lightworks

Allen Curnow — The Kindest Thing

page 6

Allen Curnow

The Kindest Thing

Rear—vision glass
knows what comes up

out of whatever
concealed exit

I've left behind
me. These cross-country

highways hide little
for long, and least

when driving east
one of those bright

spring mornings. Green
acclivities drop

back. Sheep with them.
What comes up next

comes fast, the ute
probes left, probes right

(how can hurrying
mirrors keep up?),

overtakes me
with a long blast

storms past into full
view carrying

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at gathering speed
what was concealed,

only heard, the dog
half-hanged, roped

by the neck, raving,
clawing at the tailboard

forefeet can't climb
back over, hind-

legs cruelly danced
off the tar-seal.

Bare road between us
lengthens. Away

out of sight, how long
will it have held,

that rope, till it parts?
And the ute's gone,

the dog's flung down
and I brake, short

of the strangely small
body, the one

coin-size blood spot
at the jaws. Convulsed,

gets to its feet.
Convulsed, falls over.

And I'm joined here
at the roadside by

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the Maori boy who
saw it all, from

that house, the first
before Kawakawa.

Where there's a vet
Pick the dog up.

Put the dog down.
These hurts can't heal.

At the vet's yes,
green with a white

logo on the cab.
And he, not council

car? Got the number?
And I, that speed!

You're joking Drunk—
stoned, more likely,

on the hemp, cash
crop around here.

And he, Ranger's job,
picking up strays.

We put them down.
Kindest thing, most times.