The people who live in this house are always forgetting to keep things new. Now and
then, they wheel their deflated bicycles bumpily onto the veranda and lean them
against the weatherboard. But what can be done! they cry. We wield no cheeks of
wind, no thunderbolts. Air goes where it wants to. The days spread over the gravel
road like a calorie mist that the people condense, step by step, with the length of their
bodies. At night, the bicycles crawl back to the shed, the rubber loose around their
spokes like the jowls of television men.
She’s twelve, she’s learning to tie her shoelaces for the first time. Her parents always
believed clogs were a superior shoe. We used to walk to the beach all the time, she
says, collecting notes. Her piano fingers make the loops too small. She moves more
slowly than the rest, holding her sheet music angled in front of her like a sun tray.
You can snap one match and you can snap a few matches but try snapping a whole
boxful at once, she says. She addresses the body that’s gathered on the greener
grass. They are pale and fit and light as young aspens, with as many eyes. Their
chests are swelled. They’ve stored their weapons cleverly, close to the left lung.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan Fleming is a Wellington writer who now lives in Golden Bay. She received the Biggs Poetry Prize in 2007. She likes the deceptiveness of prose poems.