Title: Sport 40: 2012

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 40: 2012

Maria McMillan

page 330

Maria McMillan

Abyssal Plains

Try this. The sea is not liquid. Fish climb it. Tiny animals swing
on tiny monkey bars. Or ride upon them upturned, grasping
whatever is available for a mast, clinging as drifting sailors cling
through nights of hideous stars. The ocean is never
the same twice. You don’t know if you’ll open the door
n yellow fish flicking past, or a swarm of jellyfish little
fisted stomachs pulsing, or something like snowfall because
you are directly under the carcass of a great whale whose debris will
on the sea floor change everything. Abundance. Tube worms
grow at astronomical rates. Small mountains form. Children are
     born seconds
after their grandparents. It’s not even the same water. Imagine
what it does to time if space is not a rock. Hold me. Something’s
The water is an unimaginable shade of turquoise and all about
grasping sailors forget their calf country, forget their wives.

page 331

salt marsh and tidal inlet

we’re in bed and you pass me a paper
to put on the table and I read salt marsh
and tidal inlet. The other words get sucked back into the paper a pattern of
black and white. I lived in an inlet once.
Sometimes it was as if I was living
on poles above the water. Sometimes it was empty.
Different birds would fly in, build nests,
raise their young, leave footprints in the mud.
The slow breathing of someone
falling asleep. I imagine oxygen
flooding through you. Tributaries.
The landscape changes. Changes back.


Moorish broken ground they called hag,
and ill-tempered women. And hag also
to wield clumsily a knife. When we came
there were not houses or lush plains.
Nor butchers. My sister is hollow-eyed.
Muslin-mouthed with a man’s muscles.
In the shed carcasses hang like ornaments.
They sway in the wind. Each evening
we scrub the floor. Mop out the blood,
and the black insects that gather there,
and have lived that day their entire lives.