Title: Sport 36

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2008

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 36: Winter 2008

Joan Fleming

page 172

Joan Fleming


That night, she tried to fit the whole of him
into the space of her and it hurt but in that good way
like when the stars in the back of your eyes explode
and you can finally see a path to the moon
and the moon is saying oh oh oh stroking the tide in.
They drove his van into the dark with the bed
in the back and five curtains with a pattern of flowers
so small at first they seemed like polka dots, or sometimes
not there at all. He kept stones everywhere
and she talked about the boulders she had seen
with hollows that would fit a human body
and he said yes yes yes and she picked one up
and so smooth she thought he must have loved them,
and also driftwood on the dashboard and strange
wheaty parachute tufts that could slow
a free-falling finger, maybe a whole hand.
Over the dark hills new to her and white angry signs
along the way, she didn't know about the wind farm
but he would always point to these things,
like later, in a friend's hallway he pointed to a map of Belize
and said you know? and she felt small
and said no no no. And they kept on the dark roads,
roads that later she could bike the whole way up
after saying for years she'd never bike in this town,
he was always the one disappearing down the path
of their house in his bright yellow cycling jacket,
he was always asking her to name the precise colour
of that exact patch of sky, getting out three pages
of computer paper to make a border and she would say
nothing is independent but would name it peach-grey
page 173 anyway. When they came to the beach they drove right
onto the sand and she leaned up against the van feeling
everything was possible and she was thin and her smile
was a whole sky and he grabbed her and pulled her into his beard
and said I think I'm falling in love with you but then later
he never said I'm falling in love with you.
That's the thing about possibility. Anyway,
they chased each other across the dark beach
like children and hardly slept in the tin van home
under his clever netting with its small light and
its insect repellent and its holes. In the daylight
they were parked ten metres from someone's front porch
where a man was having his morning coffee, they hadn't seen
the distance in the dark but he said he didn't care
he would make love to her with all the windows open
and the sun on his back, but of course he didn't, and
they dressed each other, boiled their own thick morning cup
on the camp stove and talked about going to the Orongorongos,
and what it might be like, and what it might be like to stay.

page 174

How to leave the first-day-of-spring party with less than you came with

In the pelican's fabric beak, I find a home for our made-up
story about pelicans. I typed one line, you typed one line.
The structure of surprise—let someone find it.
Out on the balcony (no one lives downstairs,
we can be this loud) I remember how cloud-watching

isn't just for children. Everyone owns the clouds,
so no-one does. Stegosaurus becomes teapot,
sailboats are losing their sails with the wind.
Moon is bright, spring moon. In the middle of a perfectly
bright conversation about sex I ask him if he's ever lost

someone. Yes, three people. But it's nothing much profound.
Apparently he talks about death with everyone.
Gingerbread men are iced into their silver buttons,
like children used to get sewn into their winter clothes.
Start with the arms. This will hurt. Who lives downstairs again?

Tomorrow we can put our scarves away.
Closed drawer, draggled ends in tangled connection.
Gloves with fingers empty of fingers
trying to hold hands. I saw you with fake snow
caught in your hair, looking like an angel,

looking like someone—overcome—who runs out
into the snow, instead of just there when someone brings
the snow machine inside. The secret ingredient is soap.
So when he points it at the walls and the photographs
of people from New York, it's like they're having a bath.

page 175

Bathtub becomes spaceship. Fake snow in the cobwebs,
clean spiders. Bring up the sun. Tomorrow will be
a nice day. All chalked up, writing made-up stuff
about snow to say goodbye to the cold.
People don't say proper goodbye anymore. Say see ya.
Say see ya later.

everything is round & we see that even in company the mind has nowhere to fall but back on itself

smooth as eggshells,
masks a cupping
could crack

& what comes first?
the said breath
or the window to show it

sing, see me
blink away dust
in the shapes

where the eyes should be
tie at the back
black ribbon

& I'm bowled
by the thought
of the world

page 176

as tree-rings
the seasons

lips tell
spiral stories
cry out oh

open the hatch
what do we keep
in there?

pulleys, props
for the levered lift
some threadbare

& some ropes
to fly with