Title: Sport 2

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, April 1989, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 2: Autumn 1989

Sara Knox

page 115

Sara Knox


For my father, who wanted to be forever young

We walked miles that day — my sister and I.
It was summer; we were not
ourselves —
were what we could be
at our best; free
and with different names

in the mountains, tramping
over gravel track and swingbridge,
past forty Japanese tourists wearing white,
cameras swinging at their necks
like baby monkeys

walked nine kilometres
to the base of the mountains,
there stopped by the fear
that any further
would be called

a thing we could not do,
at least not without
           swiss climbing packs
           two hundred feet of rope
           two pairs of socks
           in well-worn boots
           strong legs
page 116            no fear of heights
           (in other words —
           whole other lives)

so we two girls
stopped and had our picnic

while a party of young Aussie men
swum in the nearby Hooker
yelling, white-lipped, at one another:

'Its not that fucking cold!'

and our father's ghost
ran swiftly past us
with a crate of beer (taken on a bet)
for urgent delivery
to the admiring ghosts
of other
high in the mountains overhead.

Hermione, 1881


they said,
we cannot take the cats
where we are going
but you can have one
when we get there
and I asked

page 117

where is there?
Missy, superior,
looked up over her oatmeal
and told me
to the Colonies!

a long way, and,
they say
it will be by ship

and I shall see
the sea.


Today the letter
calling us to Plymouth.
Missy, Noel and I
were fetching windfalls
by the gate.


then Missy
grabbed my hand,
squeezing till it hurt —

and through the open door
I saw mother at the kitchen table


one rose apple
in her hands.

page 118


Gales again today
and I heard the carpenter
from steerage
that God spat
to make this wretched sea

the Bay of Biscay

and the biscuit
is too hard
for Noel to eat

Mother soaked it
but he wouldn't touch it


Lessons on deck;
a strapping
when I told the Master
I'd lost my Company bible.


He is gone.
Noel is gone

and I am in terror of these waves

He was just there
on the deck
between Missy and Mother —
then the water breaking over us;

page 119

everything swept about
and Noel

we wouldn't have been out
but mother said
Noel needed arrowroot
and we must fetch it
from the Surgeon


Now still,
the ship throws out a wake
like wings
behind us
The other children play tag;
run along the deck
to watch bottles
drift from bow to stern
the Master came, smiling, to me
told me what sport it was
to throw bottles and hats
to the sea

so I told him
that hat was for Noel,
and that he had my Bible too.