Title: Sport 36

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2008

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 36: Winter 2008

Dora Malech

page 206

Dora Malech

Drought Year

Even the sky has its hobbies, cirrus, etcetera.
Cannot rain every day and these days any day

can not rain. The sage and I play
sought and found. I am an amateur

and try to keep my blue above the skyline.
Talk of monitoring elsewhere's mountain,

sighs out of ash, and the meteors' signatures.
Mama puts all her eggs in one chimney again.

A plan for a plan. So breaks our oldest news.
Silence, though 'not the void and not contentment',

where wind writes the grass into yellow italics
and the sky dabbles in sunsets, violent festoonery,

faiblesse. It is the minister of the interior.
I can draw lovely flowers and terrible hands.

page 207

Places, Places

A mistranslation gave Moses
his horns and they stuck.
What you see is what we are—
ignominious physiognomy,
our lumps writ large. At the party,
the drunk surgeon moans I've seen
the human heart. No zoo's a bestiary.
Even the greatest sometimes paint
an awfully heavy halo. On behalf
of our hands, the pugilist puppets
go at it, Pulcinella giving the Devil
what for. Behind the scrim, a man,
and now his hands are kissing.
Ask if he's Pulcinella and he'll say
if only. The overeager guidebook
claims the fish is tastiest when it looks
like nothing you've seen before,
claims masks were worn year round
in the time of the Republic.
Imagine the words of the wives:
Dear, you're not wearing that face,
are you? I'd like to think I'd give
what for. I'd like to think that mine's
a heart-shaped face and written all over.
No reliquary's mine to regulate
and if one were I wouldn't.
Perhaps what's under glass is not
the finger that touched the wound
but it's certainly a finger.

page 208

Here and There

Perhaps not real head and real wall this time.

After the endless season of condolences,
come to to the sound of the neighbour muttering
what a boring dulcimer that was.

Our hero is burning the sheaves of shorthand,
asked and answered and oyez and so forth,
letting the estimable elders down.

The river's becoming a torrent of blossoms.

The hands wish to be read their rights again.

Perhaps it's time to think of savings, press
the pansies in the atlas, wet the thread
to take arms against the needle's tricky eye.

Bequeathed to our bodies, a decent descent.

Our hearts are teething. Our friends won't let us
drive them on the highways anymore.

More terror in a meanwhile or a yet?

We say too much until the words dissolve,
a city of girls wearing white in the rain.

page 209

Flora and Fauna

He watched me witness my own hands
Whorled wrung and open to flutter unfurled.
Hushed hear-say passed finger to finger,
Harbored heresy, palm foretold
A live forever then walk home,
A scream-strung sun streaming worship me.
Mess of snapdragons and scurf, day-lilies
Come hell-bent, bouquet of have my way with
Tied with twine and piano wire
Tuned to take that tone. In the blind

I meant don't take and flushed—fashioned
A thicket from twigs and hot glue, played pleaser,
Came seamless, cooed like what I see through you.
Came to his feeder and held my wings
Until, tired of purpling for the cause,
The awe-worn knees swore off swooning,
Unbent me to standing, told me of a bough
By the river bent to water. If he asks after me,
I'm now full and grown green—whisper
Can't miss me, body of blossoms, this yield.

page 210


This is where we learn how to approach disparate conflagrations, a flaming television, say, versus a flaming pile of oil-soaked rags. They play the clip of the burning stadium as our punishment or our reward, 'Your time will come' or else a 'Thank you for your time', I can't be sure. 'Now see the people who believe they can escape up top,' they say, 'Now count the seconds till that roof falls in.' One. Two. A man runs out onto the field, his back and arms ablaze and chased by their own lit wake. Others push him down and wave their jackets over him. 'They're only drawing in more oxygen to feed the flames,' they say. They hit his body with their jackets. 'The right idea,' they say, 'but by now the heat has melted what's inside his arms and the blows are breaking the burnt skin that's holding him together.' An audible hiss of breath took in at our collective wince. 'Don't worry,' they say, 'a man like that's in shock. He doesn't even know that he's on fire.'

page 211

Let Me Explain

Spring, and the tulips urged me
stick to schedule, flower furiously.
I asked for mountains but settled
for some flood-buckled linoleum.
Air was the only sure thing
and even she put up a fight.
I called my eyes near-sighted,
my hands near misses, my arms
close calls, my face old hat,
my head a bluff and raised
my body, a wishing machine.
Stars, thanked. Days, numbered.
I wore a coat because you can't trust
weather and I looked like rain.

page 212

My Kingdom for the Pretty Picture

Gave all the good ears for a warmer whisper.
Skinned the same day and so kept forever.
Slipped stitches known to keep each other's secrets.
Each forked stick stripped and strung to shoot.
A sliver of mirror's still an honest mnemonic.
Some assembly required for martyr of choice.
The hard hats disappeared somewhere in transit.
Gait of split knees and pressed palms into lists.
Save plinth and parapet the town was mist,
missing. Shook in the face of the sun's red fist.

page 213

A Way

Without you I am making up an ocean.

Any resemblance to real oceans living or dead
is purely coincidental.
                     I'm calling it swimmingly
but I lie.
            Distance and its usual glitter.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

My ocean is always on my other left.

Closer my own toes clumsy ghosts startle
the fry in my tide pools to skitter little
to nothing and so still again.

                              All oceans
are subject to change without notice.

oceans are proofs solved in whispers.

                              No one
can marry an ocean although anyone can propose.

Kelp and paua bits and paua pieces
and green glass worn to a stone of its old self.

My ocean is neither express nor implied.

I meant to make some us up earlier.

All oceans are studies in revision.

My ocean is trying to say nothing.

page 214

Self Portrait With Family Tree

They pull my puppet limbs to twitching
back to the horse thief, the baker, the witch killer, the judge.
Panting from nipping the tip of my tail I hang my pointed hat.
They were the dog and they were the dog eat dog,
and some of them died virgins and some of them died trying,
and some of them ate nothing and said they were stuffed,
and some of them ate crow all night and woke with feathers
between their molars and hollow bones beneath their beds.
If this house caught fire I'd grab my red boots and the chess set
with the chewed-up queen. This morning my mother called
to tell me the one about the interrupting starfish but couldn't
finish as the punch line was her open hand,
palm and all five fingers on my face.