Title: Sport 28

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 2002, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 28: Autumn 2002

Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither

page 176

Sleeping on a Waterbed

I think I'd prefer the straight stiff bed
in your other spare room but it's covered
with books and a typewriter. Already

I'm calculating how in the night I'll get up
out of the waterbed, out of the waves
and come and lift the typewriter off and the books.

So I lie down, dead centre, with the duvet
which is the colour of water seen through wharf slats
that unbelievable turquoise, so deep and sinister

and nothing happens until I turn
and in my ear an immediate susurration
a tiny curled up and released wave

that a shell, perfectly gauged to my weight
and my turning, releases to run to
the edge of the mattress as if a shore

awaits by the boards. Amazed I turn
onto my other side—this is like
swimming and holding the mouth agape

in the protection of an arm—again
the shoreward sound, the perfection of
this sea-simulated measure for measure.

page 177

Smoking with Carol

Filter tips, then menthol, lastly roll-your-own
with geriatric threads of tobacco hanging
and lick-spittle sealed. Come

you used to indicate, rolling two
in the laundry and carrying them
with the plastic lighter in your fist

out past the swimming pool, around
the Virginia creeper to the seat
where smoke could float over an entire valley

and quickly dissipate. You lit
yours first, I positioned mine
into your cupped palms or kissed

edge to smouldering slow flaring edge
breathed deep, as if we breathed together
for surely conspirators' breaths are synchronised.

Often mine went out, or I left the end
not asking for another kiss of life.
Company or conspiracy were better

than any vice or discovery (later)
that the giveaway lighter had been left behind
and, for breath, there were peppermints

or a pre-dinner drink: white wine
and smoke dissolving together, Cloudy Bay
and our complicit smiles, smoke screwed-up eyes.

page 178

Silver Mirror with Cupids

for Tonia
Silver-rimmed and oval and inside
a parted curtain of silver edging
two Cupids race with gold-etched bows.

The one above would miss the one below
and likewise the one beneath: the arrows
would whistle past their outflung heels

their whirring active wings would drive them past
the vacancy of half a glass they patrol
with the insistence of humming birds. Love

must be hereabouts. The strong soft arms
hold the arrows for instant release. The torsos
float so confidently on the surface, covering

the intervening space. It must be a face
they are waiting for. One arrow will clip
the ear of anyone who appears, the other

land in your hair. You will be hemmed in
the second you appear. Still who would fear
if appearing is the perquisite to taking a chance?

page 179

Barbara and the Restaurant Bill

Attempt to pay and she'll perform
a first rate actress, still in her prime
a histrionic scene: she'll not scream
though screaming comes easy, in her range

just some expletives, beautifully pronounced
a tossing of the bill upon the tablecloth
a threat to walk or do the dishes out the back.
The one who has the language always wins

she declaims, and kohled eyes flash
into the dark of the proscenium arch
where sighs lean forward to be bought
and like bouquets come winging back.