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Sport 42: 2014

Orange plastic mug

page 18

Orange plastic mug

Once red and always on
the plaid-lined lower shelf
of the cupboard under the sink,
for weak juice and milky tea.

The mug smells of hot tussock
that breathes like baking.
It tastes of the Belgian biscuits
my mother made one summer

and looks like black-striped pink
geraniums. It feels like feet
swilling sand in a bucket of water
gone warm, sounds like the pound

that resembles wind at first, the tide.
It is full of the frustration of playing
children’s Scrabble instead of
the real thing with darker squares

and no pictures, the tired
comfort and outrage of being
put to bed before the fire
is put out, while other children

climb the hill’s seeping shadows,
feeling their way under wire
fences and over dead sheep;
screams flashing like torches.

page 19

There are orange plastic mugs
and magenta geraniums and dry
biscuits, tussocks, torchlight
here—but what is the point

in saying that mug is a similar
size or I learnt to swim by
walking my palms along the floor
of a lagoon identical to that one?

It only marks the distance between
here and then. Sometimes I am far
from the country that no longer exists;
sometimes I feel close to nothing.

This mug is not a likeness, a simile.
It is the same mug I drank from then.
I hold it now, but the trees are whiter—
bones clean except for silver leaves

the shape of my father’s and my husband’s
dry smiles. One is here, one is then. I am
tense now. Unsure of when we are. Cold tea
burns my lips. I politely ignore everyone.