Title: Sport 40: 2012

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

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Sport 40: 2012

Holly Painter

page 62

Holly Painter

We get on

like a house on fire. What a line. Nothing burns here.
Even my armpits grow mildew while I sleep and
lstick insects weld spindly watertight armour for storms.

A fistful of stars spattered at this latitude night after night
always the same, just tilted, and you picnic alone on
a grass island between eastbound and westbound.

I skid up close, toss tins of corn out the window.
What’s your sign? Where’s your beggar’s placard?
Take a photograph to hang in my kitchen. You cook.

Feed me oysters. I’m allergic to ragweed and shellfish
but what an aphrodisiac, to watch you shuck and pile
the soft parts in a shallow pool of vinegar.

I let you out in spring to press your low nipples flat
against a sled on a dewy hill. It’s faster than snow
and a salt truck sprays the ice-sculpted children.

I paint a pot of daffodils for your desk and put you to work
writing the story of my life, especially the part where
you sit on my bike and put your thumbs through the holes in my

page 63


Maybe I grew up here but maybe I got no older
like I can walk the length of this beach
can run from campsite to industrial lights
like El Segundo where I once lost
Rosie’s bikini bottom to the waves

like Ravensbourne where we drove
the night I finally kissed Jo
three, four, five years ago
when I came to this country alone
with no sense of myself or my future

Now I can walk this beach again
can run with my eyes on the sky
and no matter how far I go, Orion stays still
getting no closer or farther away
like a photograph set before a treadmill

But if I continue long enough into the night
at last, on his own, he seems to rise
and the stars behind become bright
filling in the empty spaces until
all the shapes have changed