Sport 43: 2015
Last night a woman offered to give me an injection against crossness and frustration. She was wearing those thick 50s wingtip glasses and her hair was rolled back in complicated neatness. I guessed she knew what she was doing. Up close I could see the cat flick at the corner of each eye caught in a fringe of lines, and the clumping of mascara. The ritual began . . . cut-out map pieces of continents and countries were arranged on a formica table in their proper formations. Just think, she said, shunting Brazil into place, of the disruption we could be causing . . . tsunamis up and down Africa. She placed a small, white birthday candle between Europe and Asia, and lit it. Being indoors, the orange flame stood straight up, just wait, she said, for an easterly, holding up a wetted finger. The flame veered west suddenly as if a small child were puffing at it for a wish and Spain leapt sideways with it as it has done many times before. I was worried, imagining tiny people grabbing up glasses of wine and clutching at tables as their afternoon jolted like a kicked hammock, shouting NOT AGAIN! Next, the woman pulled out a small wooden hammer, like a meat tenderiser, and began preparing my left hand by lightly pounding it. On the underside, the knots at the base of my thumb gave way with pops and clicks; on the top, the hammer sprang away from small bones at awkward angles. Finally she drew the injection and flicked it like they do in the movies. She applied it to that vein running along the narrow bone of my middle finger and into my wrist, next to the trapezoid. I lifted up like a kite away from my body and migrated, with the wind, to Spain. My body arrived somewhat belatedly, sweating, and looking resentfully at my pitcher of Sangria; we hugged, pleased to see each other again. Bright circles of paper lanterns rustled between leaves; the night was opening up.
All tall women
I am standing between two tall women. All through primary school, then intermediate, I was the tallest girl in my class, my mum letting out and out the hem of my uniform skirt. Striped tideline. Tree rings. Orbital routes. I stood in the back row for class photos, with the boys. Mum was always proud of this. As though all tall women are feminists. We have a secret glam-rock fightclub—we’re always finishing Erica Jong. I’d say I’m in the top 5–10% of women, height-wise. But these women are taller, with matching red hair; two columns that go up and around me, their eyes meeting over my head. Jane would be Doric: the sculptural severity of her cheekbones, gash of hair across her forehead, black tick at the outer corner of each eye; Morgan—Ionic: the wind still struggling to make its way out of her hair; part of her fringe is sticking straight up while she’s browsing a book on ‘colorstrology’. With my ex across the room and the free wine already gone, you could say they’re my door frame to her earthquake. You could say every book in the store is another way our story might have ended, or gone on. You could say a lot of things: that the hotel room was cheap, that the death in the family was well timed, that the night I walked out was the last time I wore my favourite turquoise ring. There is something traumatic about book launches. I think I have accidentally caught the eye of the guy at the back selling the books so often I might have to buy a copy. I think of yoga today and how I was thinking of Cohen’s Lover Lover Lover when the instructor put her hand between my shoulders and breathed deliberately and loudly as my forehead rested against my knee. I think of how many airline accidents there have been lately and how the dark scarf of conspiracy theory hasn’t muffled the grief. The ancient ruins of bible-town. The pitfalls of prophecy. Someone is reading a love poem like it’s an obituary and when I look up, through the quake of concentrated shoulders, she’s looking straight at me.