Title: Sport 37

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2009, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 37: Winter 2009

Brent Kininmont

page 55

Brent Kininmont


I am of two minds about what I did.
—Mathias Rust, 20 years after landing a plane
in the middle of Moscow

A West German
flew me through

a hole he saw
in their thinking.

Sunlit, the rivers
charted Russian towns

below us,
threads more golden

the longer
we followed them.

When the glints
grew into stars

on a MiG making passes,
he kept going over

why we couldn't land.


page 56

Too slow for the jet
to keep up,

we burrowed into
clouds until

the voices in
his headset

stopped talking,
the only tirade

the propeller.
At the end of his tunnel vision

Red Square,
the cathedral towers

for welcoming wands.


As bad as Chernobyl.
Gorbachev worried

about fallout.
He retired the generals

who didn't believe
their pilot's eyes.

(Our flutter
on their radar?


page 57

A chance to purge
the politburo—

all those red faces
all those assembling.


Mathias was
listening at last

when first I saw
his face.

Above the caption
the court translator

dangled in his ear
ideas about

a state of mind,
how someone our age

got there.
Not quoted yet

the stenographers
writing his sentence,

the plane's new owner
impatient for

the investment
to mature.

page 58


Is it measured
by feathers?

By soft letters
in a lyric?

She thinks
it's by kisses

eyelashes make.
Twenty -three

Twenty -four
Twenty -five

The mattress lies down
beneath her.

The magpies
inside her

open wide
to wake her,

think better of it.

page 59

He's Not Here

He can't ask why
she lingers in
this amphitheatre.

Why here she hears
the echo—
what the guide says

about spots around
ancient stages
where the voice still carries.

Why she folds into a crack
in one stone wing
an apology to him

for a thought about
lying offshore.

We watch it
lapped by water,
lit with small trees.

page 60


The man on the wing is looking for holes
where rivets should be.

He doesn't lift his gaze
from lines of ellipses, from spotting

what might be omitted.
How can he keep an eye out for me

and not see my face filling
the window seat?

When he climbs down the ladder
I'm grateful for thuds

where someone in the belly is stacking

all those theories about ourselves
and what we need to fly.