Sport 36: Winter 2008
To my mother's surgeon
I dreamed you were taking photographs of me
concrete, elect, manipulating my tape-ribbon
in a room filled with light and sound
events, a bombardment. I was wearing
brown brushed satin, my eardrum
a hammer and anvil, you were
taking them from behind, catching
the smallest bones: the ossicles
the tympanic line of my jawbone, the flick
of vestibular canals, liquid balance
of eyelashes but not the eye. Outside,
decisions and idiophones
aerophones were being made, floating on the
threshold. Steam inhaled now waving
back at me from the water, washing to be done
and the dry wish of paper-stacking.
There were nests of musicians
and among them a pile of quiet
truck-horns. I broke off a letter in mid-sentence
to say: isn't that part of you in front of us?
Sir, Mister, I seek the direct
hope you were never given as a child
the buttery contact of fingers
and the quality of sleep I very much
hope you enjoy on the 25th
or 16th of the month the night before
the morning of the anaesthetic. Pull up
a stool, Mr Cochlear, finger its red brocade.
Pump the pedals—the thin black, the wider white ones.
Breathe in the polish. Play her precious keys.
says the woman on the bus
like I've swallowed a branch
is this a new flu?
The bus-driver says
I feel like I've swallowed a hurry.
says the depot manager
I feel like I've swallowed
a large white brick
the brick isn't real
it's a kind of cladding
at one corner a nest
of spiders is building.
We the shareholders
feel like we've swallowed a bus
trolley buses or trams that depend
on electricity for their volition
and wave sparking antennae
at thick wires criss-crossing our city
making every suburb and hotspot
accessible without resort
to the motorcar
and its archaic fossil-fuel-burning
We are a branch
say the fossils
of your family.
What the destination has to offer
Like trees, there are rings
in the small headbones of an eel
we count the rings to find the age.
Each bone too small for tweezers
my cousin plucks one up
stuck to a bead of silicon
on the end of a wire.
He is putting his bones under the microscope.
He can tell you what they've been eating.
They go to Samoa to breed
he tells me, probably Samoa
or somewhere with water
so deep it crushes the sperm
and eggs from their bodies.
They die then
and the tiny glass eels
make their way from Samoa
back to the same river
in the Horowhenua.
Salt, fresh, salt, he says.
The opposite of salmon.
I threw out the clock
the rubbish is ticking.
people are making alarming discoveries
about the secret online lives
of their loved ones, the daughter
and the cyanide, the no-reason.
Our dishes smell of flyspray
I wash them while the flies circle
the same flies that have flown
the rooms of this house
in formation for weeks
two zizzing pairs.
Or perhaps they are
different flies every day
away from my gaze
middle-aged state servants
in a timeshare, bored
with what the destination has to offer
through the mangroves
bitching at each other
they can't settle
they should have gone
to Samoa instead.