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Sport 37: Winter 2009

from newzealand

page 177

from newzealand


jump said dad under a blue sky. but he did not why. i am eleven and too heavy with the beauty of life. he has come down a silvermilk glacier. its top a jaw of mountainteeth. all new and white what with the blue above and the three skitracks slipped into its soft declining tongue. and a star still or already in the blue sky so unusedup the sky that it is new or he feels new under it.

how often i sat and dangled my legs on the little jetty in the lake. watching mountains. watching the sun decline upwards on them. the snow still yellow at the top. and longed to be there. amidst no names or stories. in the last of it. new in it. where at the end of the lake faroff bushcovered shapes made room for the rise of the mountain. and the snow all yellow there. and a minute more blue like death. with the sun climbed away. despairing then. and wanting to be home.

what would it be to love it in its darkness. all of it. the new world. coldcurled beside a babyglow of fern. near low waves that eat sand with white bubbles. under a star still or already in the black sky. asleep in manuka. sweetwater rushing past his ears. and in the mountain. or on its top. when the snow goes blue and dark. and no hut or home.

he stands where dad is calling him to jump. the sun is shining and he is warm. his little face is burned to paper with snowglare. pieces float away like toitoi feathers. and alight lightly on the snow. where they fail in wetness and flood themselves minutely into softnothings. little parts of him. he can push his finger between his old face his old skin and his new. it is good to feel new. babynew. moist and tender. with no name and no stories. page 178 mum has knitted his hat. it is embarrassed by a maculated pompom. but it is hut and home. should the sun suddenly decide to turn the world dark and blue and cold. and the world cannot be loved in its coldness. or if they should have missed their time. but that is a mothers thought. there is no intent in the land. the land will not surprise me. not in this hat. except by its beauty that makes me heavy.

his goggles are of the old kind. a kind of soft tin. with an elastic ribbon behind. and green glass. and little oblong holes in the rims. they press on his old face and hold bits of it there when they could fall to the snow. and for a while with them on the world was green. but now it is blue and white again. and kind of green. but less green than before. but much whiter and bluer when i take them off to brush my old face away to the snow and touch the babyskin on the top of my cheeks.

how long ago. how many skins past. when the sky was so blue. when he followed dad and dad was there walking in front of him his boots in the snow on the track in the mush of little browngreen manuka leaves on pebbles and riverstones white in the sun and through creeks and through rivers white and blue in the sun white and blue with melted ice from the silvermilk glacier somewhere from the rising mountain between the bushcovered hills slipping on creekrocks and riverstones that made a clockclock as they rocked under boots their boots dad in front him following through scratchy bush over vegetablesheep mountaindaisies and swingbridges up ridges and going on on on bluntly through wind and in the end down to mud and dust and speargrass and down to a road some unsealed road and the car and lemonade in a plastic bottle and home.

consider things lightly. let nothing come between an active joy and the love of it. not even thought. not even thinking. and this is the land of it.

i sucked at the plastic bottle of lemonade all the way home. watching the bubble that disappeared behind the greenyellow label. watching for its going on to the top. the dark old store by the lake. where page 179 tilley lamps hung from the sooted roof. and gumboots hung on wires. blankets and bootlaces folded on shelves. dubbintins matches and candleboxes. scroggin and toiletpaper and rope and smelling of woodfire and wood. liquorice icecream chewinggum and the old man with a beard and a bushshirt at the back with a packhorse and a weskit and a pickaxe and a tin basin who went away to the bush like men at the end of films.

and a little iceaxe. and a little pack. with nuts chocolate apples orangesquash throaties and barleysugar. and an oily parka wrinkled black like a dried seal.

bridges and flax. village halls and drinkhotels. houses verandahs and corrugated iron rooves. the smell of woodfire and wood. foxgloves and poplars. pineforests picnicbenches rivers reserves hills dust. and sometimes a car. and sometimes a high bird. all the way home.


to west is not to wonker. he could go. and look for. wherever it was whatever it was again why not. it would get him out of the house. however he had got there in the first place. it was worth considering. going. because good it would mean walking again. dad was gone now of course why. but walking again. walking once more. it was something he could do. his fathers house. with its red chenille curtains worn away in smoothnesses here and there. and the tin bath. filled in front of the fire. and the bed he had slept in first. when he came home from being born. however he had got there in the first place. to leave it and walk again walk once more. and the house on top of the hill. at the end of a small road. and a field of sheep from the kitchen louvres.

it was worth considering. it was hard to catch the thought of it. which was eelslippery. he couldn't remember where. because the walking the tramping the following the slogging along all the slogging along gave to the little drink the lemonade and the plastic bottle that is some kind of um dueness. deserving would be better. yes deserving. from page 180 the walking a deserving would come. and if nothing came along well you might hold the deserving in reserve as it were for another time when something did come along. and if something did come along then he could have it. that had always been the way with him since the first walking and the first lemonade. and not a bad way it was. it had served. and this was the country for it.

he had been started after all. walking. his mother and father had taken care of that. and now he was left to go on. and on. for all the world like huhugrubs hopping over each other. take his part. jump. heavy with beauty he would try to jump. had he left it too late maybe perhaps. too heavy and pleased. it was the least he could do.

i lay in bed. it was the same bed. more of a divan probably. the first bed. with two drawers and a high mattress. and a clan rug. whichever it was. i don't remember. worn and a little faded but waggled with tassels yet. how to get up. it was a drama worthy of several of the ages of man getting up. first the decision and the will. and then the motions. heavens the motions. the fanheater crouched like a mushroom beside the bed whirring hot air through its chrome rounds and its shining orange head. the red chenille curtains stirred a little in its breath. the age of the dinosaur passed probably. the tartan hill of knee geomorphicised maybe or something a little to the decline leftwards. the river valley below sighed for a thousand years. he sank back exhausted.

bellbirds sang in the garden where the corn shuffled and the gooseberries gleamed. the sunshadows edge moved across the carport. the cardboard boxes and the dartboard. the old rubbercanvas canoe and the homemade skis. outlines of hammer chisel rasp and saw on a wooden wall. fencing mask and vacuumcleaner. and a homemade launch on a trailer. with a cabin. like a shark in a hat. waiting on its pressed rubbertyres. the rotary washingline hesitated and started its arms like fences for the air. which was scented with hydrangeas. pink and blue and ugly with those great leaves that felt like skin.

page 181

he tried to sit up. the pillows sighed for him. the curtains blew a little apart in the hot air. and the smell of nectarines poured in from the garden. before the rosesmell. and the chinese gooseberries. sheep bleated in the field beyond the kitchen. cut grass. someones radio. he slumped back. the first bed. it was hard to get up. perhaps another age was needed. before he could turn mountains into a tidied tartan plain and be gone. and let the world in and all its beauty. more of it. it was hard to move with the all of it that he had already. to best is not to bonker. get up get up.

he watched a toeknob rise into being. the age of some gliding thing that did not work well. in all the world wherever it was having never seen it he could never exactly pin it down where it was in all the world i say i was born of people living of people alive the nearest to the first people of their land. that was surely worth something. i know not what. but it gave you a kind of start a kind of push a kind of impetus to make something of your freshness your new way and your youngness. the toeknob disformed. well it sank. the perfume of nectarines swelled upon the heated air like a melted urge.

ah the mountains.

his eyelids lay like lead. could they be calling the mountains. they seemed to. they could not. it must be memories of beauty then. that could be right. that he needed them. or wanted them. and what had they done to make him want them. well nothing. because they could not. it was merely a kind of family habit. a way to make things wonderful. beautiful. to make living or a life so. and that worked. it was good enough. well more than good enough. much more. and it would do nothing would do better why. and it was the country for it. it was time to go. he struggled with his eyelids. which rolled irresistibly down.