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Sport 42: 2014


page 6


Tu Fu flips open his cell and speed-dials Li Po’s number. ‘I’ve been
spinning my wheels,’ Tu Fu confides.
‘So drink,’ Li Po suggests. ‘So drink and fornicate and do narcotics.’
‘Spinning my wheels and running on empty, of late.’
‘So get yourself a kick-arse tattoo.’
‘Is this the toxic dusk at the end of Literature? Are our centuries of
effort at an end?’

Tu Fu flips open his cell and speed-dials Sinbad Greene. ‘I’ve
written nothing for weeks,’ Tu Fu insists.
‘Perhaps you’re trying too hard.’
‘Possibly. Probably.’
‘Make use of what presents itself. Or chill and learn to wait.’
‘Make use of what presents itself?’
‘Yes. And remember—First Thought Best Thought Always.’
‘You can’t possibly believe that.’
‘Believing it makes it true.’

page 7

Contemptuous of time zones and expense, Tu Fu rings Wang Wei.
‘I’m working on a screenplay,’ Wang reports. ‘Here at the The Pink
Motel, it’s always noon, and today’s a photocopy of yesterday.’
‘Let me ask you a question, friend. How many books do you love?’
‘I couldn’t say. I’d have to have a think.’
‘Just how many books do you love, old son? But really and truly
love, finally?’

Tu Fu flips open his cell and decides to go for broke. ‘Paint me a
picture, Maestro, if you will—a picture to inspirit and inspire.’
‘Glad to oblige a colleague,’ says Mark Strand. ‘I’m sitting at a
table at the end of a white pier. An orange sun is sinking through
the carnage in the west; it tints and taints the sea’s busy surface; it
tinctures the decoction in my glass and slightly stains the front of my
white shirt.’
‘And what are you quaffing, Mark?’
‘Ambrosia. With ice. The dead in their grey pyjamas know the last
ship has sailed, and I’m drinking the nectar of the gods.’