Title: Sport 31: Spring 2003

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 2003

Part of: Sport

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Sport 31: Spring 2003



page 89

Nice Morning for It, Adam

I tend to look at the gardener sideways—
that tidiness, the rigour of those Sunday
pathways, children laughing then crying,

the bandstand brassed with hullabaloo,
and the tulip beds which have never once
struck me as vaginas squadroned, which

shows the beats I have missed in this monde
symbolique—the gardener who eyes
it all, brings it to pass in his big

gloves, those fearsome secateurs
as if to warn us, we mundane strollers,
that exactitude, like tulips, comes at a price.

page 90

After such events

This week I have put down two bits of reality
which were far cries from what I would call
a reality of my own.
One was a person I knew
well enough to discuss love and art and death,
although I know nothing of what she said as she
dialled a wrong number, read her children's
reports, decided on recipes, or said when
men touched her in the sensuous hours
before dawn.
The other was a novel
about a nice person and made me think
of a largish, nondescript woman dabbling
her calves in a Para-pool and thinking, if she
ever wrote, there would be no problem
in knowing exactly what a model feels
in her candied bikini as she pouted
into the waves, and the sea dabbed at her
half in reverence, half discomfort …
I try to describe my friend let alone
the novel to a third person, who in turn
re-described to a friend, that friend could hardly
hazard—this is my guess—not know
which story had three hundred pages, which
veins and cerebellum and spleen and thighs.
Which lived, which stepped from fantasy's
rainbow, is not the domain of the person
who hears from another the reported story
which, after all, is what she, he, we,
are after: the riffling of pages that spring
from any grave.

page 91

All one can do, really

I say, ‘I have never been there.’
So she asks me, ‘Think of
everything you have ever imagined
it to be, then tell me.’ I do.
She says, ‘Not in the least.’

I read this poem about an alligator
and the sun's iridescence
and a terror that deprives
the mind of every movement.
‘Is that interesting?’ she says.

I ask her to talk to me
in the street so people will say
‘See her talking to him.’ She says
how she's never seen anyone listening
look so out of place.

My pulse if I may say so
is like an ocean view in perfect
calm. I tell her that. She says
if palms bend exotically as that
is she ever grateful metaphors

sometimes drown at birth.
I say ‘steel’ and ‘azure’, thinking
her eyes will like it. ‘If it's windows
you're after,’ she says, ‘you'll like
outside even more.’

page 92

Cynics need not attend

How everything begins with chocolates in the movies,
the fingered paper that drives lone viewers to rage!

She has sat through so many chocolates and that rustle
of first times, he has laid out a small fortune

buying such earnests of sweet intent, decade
after decade. ‘I was fornicating with a woman

in the 4 Square in Ngaio,’ he might well put it,
but of course does not, ‘between cartons of basmati rice,

below shelves of Italian peeled tomatoes,
while you, my love, were walking towards me,

I think of you walking towards me like a girl
holding a branch on a Greek vase, as delicate,

as remote, as that, I like to think
of the branches stirring with the newest spring.’

How romance is a word that washes whitest, go along
with that? And we don't knock it, do we, say ‘Lay off’

to dazzle. ‘I was going it too,’ she might reasonably
answer, ‘regular as clockwork with a rep in the office

who liked nothing more than talking to his wife
on the phone across my shoulder as climax whooshed close

page 93

as all that, frisson wasn't in it!’ If you think of
love as a queue, First in first served a banner

of sorts across the Great Turnstyle, then suppose
one queue goes this way and one another,

tail-enders at the stadium's far side—
only we don't, do we, choose to put it so?

They are in the movies again for the first
and only time, her fingers tamp at the soft

centres hoping the one he took wasn't
the crème caramel she fancies. The adventures

that start from here, with her saying, breathy,
‘We can go halves if you like,’ the chocolate

a cigar butt as she turns towards him, Nice!
How love unwraps and wraps with that rustle of paper!

page 94

Life Sentence

When the man from the Arts Council mistakenly
knuckles my door in the hope an artiste
might be found on the premises,
when this woman
with frankly, Norks, you wouldn't believe them,
asks do I have faith in the beyond,
or Arkansas, as he's known round here,
a stud-nostrilled bogan with musically
simian taste,
he or his gravid sister
wanting to borrow my ‘fockin’ tape-deck, bro’,
there's a queue, veritably, to my front veranda,
each expecting feedback as though manna's by right,
why, I quote Akhmatova
at them, my one
stab at truth in a tricky world. ‘The Venice,’
I tell them, ‘the Venice of Doges is next door.’