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Sport 42: 2014

Lynn Davidson — Kapiti Island Welcomes Back the Girl and Her Mother

page 226

Lynn Davidson

Kapiti Island Welcomes Back the Girl and Her Mother

They cut through weed and current
flicker and fin to get in. Bare
feet on bones and feathers
the socket-tug of boat
the clip of stones.
I show them the oystercatcher
who bends to a brimming water hole
the way the musculature of consonant
bends to sip at vowel
to make words make
this wind that howls make
the frequencies for language

out of what was once just
clicking sounds.

The last time I saw her, her little-girl ankle was bare,
where now a storm-blown tui—one wing fetched
out of symmetry—is tattooed
as if it fell out of flight
against her and wild weather
holds it there.
I am
(to think in human terms)
that I can also petrify by process:
there was a day, a loud southerly, when she
became pressed against a taupata
page 227 with so much of my breath in her
she couldn’t breathe.

The mother liked when the cold
shot through without warning.
That day she and the girl were pulling mussels
off rocks and she cocked her head bird-like as if
to better hear temperature. ‘Next stop Antarctica,’ she laughed.
Her geography out.
Twelve muscles in a red plastic bucket. A song
about the earth and its crust. A song
about a bird’s back. Blue soup bowls
bristling with shells and mantles.
The girl wore a dark-red woollen cloak,
inside it she hugged her arms around her body.

Our wounds cauterised, glazed in their fire.