Sport 42: 2014
She was lonely so she went to the vending machine
for a can of sweet coffee
but it gave her something else.
It gave her half a walnut shell
a rectangle of paper
and four grains of white rice.
But she was lonely so she threw these
non-coffee, uninvited things
over her shoulder.
They didn’t fall far:
the paper curved into a sail
the rice grains unravelled into long strings from its corners
and the walnut shell was big enough
for the girl to step inside.
I’ll tell you for the third time she was lonely
and lonely people don’t always care what they do
so she got in this boat and lay back.
The city street lights
provided a phosphorescent river of sorts
and as she sailed along she looked up
at the neon signs on the buildings.
One by one the letters from those signs
streaked from the night sky like fireworks
into her walnut boat.
page 143 She was up to her chin in the alphabet
and now would have been a good time
to sit right up and make a haiku.
But this girl is not looking creatively inclined
so I will write one for her.
Except haiku aren’t really my strength—
I’ll pick a letter from the boat as a starting point,
then refer to Issa (1763–1827).
The letter is W:
‘Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
is not art.’
This one appeals to teenagers
and the horizontal girl laughs, sending the letters
fizzing back into the stencilled darkness,
which falls down over her
like a net or perhaps a blanket.
Let her sleep whispers Issa,
tired of life for his own reasons.
The grains of rice drop
from the corners of the sails
rolling up as they fall through the air.
The piece of paper goes flat
and the walnut boat moors itself
next to the vending machine
so the girl can have that sweet coffee
when she wakes up.
Because she will