Title: Sport 32

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, December 2004

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 32: Summer 2004

Stephanie de Montalk

page 165

Stephanie de Montalk

His Warmth As Always

He has gone home,

rented a cottage
on a collective farm
with a barn attached
for warmth in winter,
and a clean river,
only a bus ride from the city.

He has two kitchen gardens,
five pigs,
two cows,
fifteen chickens,
one rooster,
six rabbits (small ones)
and two big ones (male and female)

four hundred metres square,
according to the official description;

but he still remembers
the cedar
he left behind
as a sapling

on the bank
where his cat
curled like a punga frond,

page 166

lay as long
as an agapanthus petal

and was buried
beside a daphne bush,
white, in memoriam.

A card arrives
from the snow,

a photograph of his cows
Marta and Boria,

and six wooden goblets,
painted, on a circular tray:
all gold leaves
and colourful fruits of the forest,
including strawberries.

‘Open champagne,’
the card seems to say.
‘Pour it out.
There is no harm in joy.
Be amongst good friends.’

‘Just think,’ he writes,
‘spring is almost here.
More sun, more blooms
and the cedar even higher.
I now have thirty-six chickens
and, each day, thirty-six eggs.
I am ready for summer.’

page 167

He loved the red-tinged cedar—

the tree that shaded
his parents
as they toiled
for their children

and, in early autumn,
as they gathered mushrooms
in the soft grass.

He will plant another.

He will light his fire
with its cones.

He will bottle
its aromatic oil

and send it by fast post
to protect us,

very soon.

page 168

Artefact Incognito

Sandstone or steel,
the gallery cannot display you.

It would need to
strengthen the floor

and reconfigure the ceiling.
Explain why you are no

tailor's dummy
or cinematic prop.

Clothe you.
Anticipate your sudden wish

to return to base
on a public holiday,

when the articulated lorry
and flashing lights

are not available.
Who cares?

You weren't wrenched
from a desert dune

for finger nibbling.
Try higher ground,

alpine flowers,
your head and shoulders

page 169

above the mist,
above the wind

blown macrocapa
and dutiful pine,

paws in the soil,
tawny limbs flexed,

magnificent chest mobile,
because every breath counts,

heart or no heart.

Appointed Limits

Uncle Donald, becalmed
in the Lesser Antilles

will tell his nephews
a story in which nothing

much happens beyond
discussion of a trip

from New Orleans to St Louis
by steam boat which once took

three weeks and was recently
accomplished in three days,

and the possibility of the ship
as floating home with

page 170

balustrades and ornamentation
befitting a palace.

One day there were clouds
like birds on the horizon,

the next a shoe, a couple of shoes
then a cobbler and so on

which, together with
volcanic rocks to port,

and starboard, and port again,
and the occasional expedition

to shore to buy tobacco from farmers
and booty from smugglers,

should help pass the hour
pleasantly enough.

He'll forgo the storm
when he clung to the mast

with the legs of a horse,
swallowing water,

and the moment of near sinking
when the bosun promised

omelets for breakfast,
and the captain,

straddling the bridge,
held his telescope like a rifle.