Title: Sport 40: 2012

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 40: 2012

Ashleigh Young

page 148

Ashleigh Young

Badly stuffed animals

I knew these people who loved their pets so much
they had them put to sleep and stuffed
and mounted in the living room
because they couldn’t bear
the grief of losing openly.
Filled out with wood and wool
articulated with wire
eye sockets packed with glass:
death’s only a pause.
They said don’t be scared
it’s something to share, something
for the visitors.

I knew people who stuffed their pets so badly
that pictures of their loved ones
went up on a website called Badly Stuffed Animals a
place where pets became fixed stars.
Cast in the stone
of their own skin and hair; there the animals were home
in their wrong eyes
and buckled teeth
and skin with old air rumpling through;
with nonsense postures to have and hold them.

There was a farming family I knew, had
a blond fawn in their living room. There it lay
with legs curled under its body.
Like a houseplant it had been placed
at the foot of the piano that was never opened.
page 149 There was something funny about that.
A fawn with a piano for a mother.
The farming family laughed about it.

I once had a lamb. Its mother had died
and the farmer had too many orphans already. Such is life
when life comes too early.
I kept him in the shed. Gave him a cardboard box, stuffed
with towels for a bed. I fed him from a bottle
and visited him at night when I worried
he was scared. When the light came on he ran to me.
His bleating was broken and ridiculous. Of all the lambs
to need a mother! When he grew up the farmer
took him away. You weren’t supposed to be sad
because lambs are for eating
so I sat on the swing and forgot him.
But I cried when we buried our dog and cat
and canaries in the garden.

Being dead is too easy. You have to remake it.
This owl has a self-conscious look.
That leopard sinks its teeth into a monkey’s head.
That stag’s head lolls its tongue. This little donkey
has a Dali crutch
in place of front legs. That chimpanzee wears
long strings of white pearls
and clutches a sculpture of Jesus on the cross.
Their nonsense postures have and hold them.

page 150

One day I woke up and all the similes were gone

Because the vase was orange, my mother banished it from the lounge.
Because the lemons are green, that lone yellow one is a clown.
Because the story is unwritten, it raises its hackles when I try
to extract it from a pair of pants on the washing line.
Because the light still shines, a bird sounds from the tree
but the tree won’t let the bird go; it is too cold.
Because my mother worked for months on the garden, the squirrels
sprint along the fence and drop softly like fruits into the garden
and wreck all that’s growing, those fucking squirrels,
because Nature no longer understands the point of a garden.
A woman runs out of our house in an apron
shrieking, shooing her arms off her body.
Because I woke up, nothing could ever be described again.
There was no wind picking up and no water running,
all the elements had lost their limbs;
the tame sheep that I had raised from birth
headbutted me when I was crouched in the paddock,
because it no longer understood the point of me, or it did, and
preferred to be free:
My lungs went into reverse and I mushroomed out in the grass.
An airplane shaved strips from the whiskerous sky.
I didn’t recognise it anymore, and I cried.