Title: Sport 40: 2012

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 40: 2012

Cliff Fell

page 328

Cliff Fell

To This

She came from a place of upright pianos

where music was ever a thing to be touched
on newly restored
hammers and strings

and a man with fingers deft
at inlaying walnut
could divine the life of each broken key

but she was in love with drowning sailors
and maps of other islands

and she made her own music by swimming alone
through the loops of their long cities
and learning to sing the tides

and if she had a fear it was of men in suits
and their heavy briefcases
or playground bullies with their busy arms

she thought nothing else could touch her

and so in good faith she had finally come
(or indeed I had brought her)
to this little corner

         of Hell—

                 my world

page 329

I have tried to write you

I have tried to write you
this story of the sky
but only as a treasure trove
or sigh into the stars
or a womb where a child still swims into the fires.
Does she know that we can see her moving
through the undertow
or in the slow heave of the breast
where she tries to latch on?
And this boy in braces, I remember you,
your hand on the suitcase—
you stand beneath the lines of pegged out washing
that never now will be dry.
And always the dissolve into power poles,
a crucifix where the transformer hangs
and the fire unfolds and flows
into flares and sparks.
It’s like this when we make electricity from water—
the villages are drowned,
for so many years the grateful bells would toll,
then they sounded the sirens for an hour
to say it was time to go.
And so the dizzy waters rose—
hey flowed into alleys and cellars,
chapels and shearing sheds,
into the bedrooms where our children were conceived
and the places where sunlight came late
through a crook in the hills.
All now were silent.
Soon the flax was gone,
though a ghost still digs in the gardens—
his spade became a waka paddle,
to ply the waters as they rose over the road.
And the turbines drove us home.