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Sport 40: 2012

Traveller’s Luck

page 422

Traveller’s Luck

I left everything and went into the valley of peonies.
The first fountain I came upon I threw in
My final two pennies. Oh! Let me
Speak too soon and rush into the desert
Where each cactus spike is a hardened wish
And sand-weary travellers admit
Their oldest debts to the sun.

Look at what I took away: Three summers (gone cold)
Five word paintings of dangerous animals
Seven childhood memories (chewed over) and one
Black birthday candle with an invisible wick.

I heard of a man who made his fortune trawling coins
From famous fountains in the small hours.
He wore a custom-made snorkel with a miner’s light
And when the homeless and alcoholic spotted him
Wavering under the night water
He leapt like a fish, calling
I am Poseidon! in a nasal voice.

Before seventeen nights were through he had close to
Eight thousand in eleven currencies.
A religion called Poseidon’s People was established
And three fountains in three continents were cordoned off as holy
After an Egyptian taxi driver took a sip and was cured
Of his Tourettic tendencies.

I watched it all from my glass-bottomed boat
Then returned to the marked grave of my own story.
page 423 I lost the summers and the animals and the candle with no flame.
My coins went to the fish man, and the childhood memories
Stayed on in the desert and played in the sand.

After the event I explained it all to my neighbour, Mr Luxford.
Mr L, I said, the light in Europe is so fine this time of year,
For weeks I tied my shoelaces without looking down.