Title: Sport 36

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2008

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 36: Winter 2008

Bill Manhire

page 219

Bill Manhire


The earliest deer had a number
and a name. And always when we called he came,
165, unlike those others in the paddock,
unlike the skyline or the failure
in the farmer's thumb, which slipped his mind
at some important moment. It is surely
the plural thing, pure need for company,
that makes us chant at the start of every story—
and in many poems, we say, the short line hides
within the longer. Now when they say velvet,
they mean blades and cuts, they mean this powder.
These days I spend my whole day planting trees.
For only a deer in solitude can be a 165,
can turn and be this other thing entire,
a great head watching from the wall.

page 220

Song with a Chorus

The child stands
in the moonlight on the moon
and bounces slowly.
His mother tucks him in.
The light tickles his chin a little.
Dear one, dear one.

Illness is here with its puzzling song.
It muddles your mind
yet tells the truth. For a while
the doctor remembers his own youth
when he, too, was cute.
My lovely one.

The moon lists to port
then to starboard. It is
somehow charming, the way
a mother weeps.
The tears repeat slowly.
My dear, my sweet.

A tear hits the forehead:
a piece of that great sea
we witness and respect.
A doctor would once have said hectic
but what now to say?
Dear one, my dear.

Meantime the moon is always travelling.
Stones live on its surface.
You throw them and they take an hour to land.
Give me your hand. Hold me.
It goes around the planet.
Oh my dear one.

page 221

The Carpe Diem Poem

The gravestone nominates an illness.
Likewise the doctor, though he knows a longer name.
The niece, weeping throughout the long and
stumbling climb,
thinks something else, or maybe she thinks nothing.
Mediterranean death can be a puzzle—
the climate making mistakes inside the body.
Now you surprise me with your photographs and fog.
I thought you had a life to live.
I thought you had those other things to do.