Max lovely I experienced a similar experience getting out of thug sports
into athletics poetry had to wait 40 odd years though
Bests Patrick now to sift a snappo
From: Poetryetc: poetry and poetics [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Max Richards
Sent: 22 October 2008 01:15
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: verse snap: harriers
Harriers, Mount Albert, 1951
All the other sports would shame me -
scrums and lineouts against thugs,
offside rules, ball skills, hard balls
skinning my fingers or aimed at my face.
Harriers must be OK - no team to let down,
no balls, no complicated rules,
just run and keep running, and if last
still not much shamed.
We're in singlets, shorts, and sand-shoes.
Softspoken Mr Castle requests:
'stay in a bunch, at least
till near the home stretch',
the harriers set out, duffers like me
relying on those ahead to know the way -
out the school gates, uphill
across the old crater's green turf,
not so fast the trees can't be enjoyed -
downhill, wet clay, fearful slithering, out
into the street beyond - by now the best
have streamed on way ahead.
Better to have stopped there and then -
late afternoon light on the grass,
slowness of park trees and sky,
perhaps a rainbow in the east. No, run.
Chest pain sets in, hoarse panting -
looking down at my pumping knees,
their colour's changed from white to red.
Is anyone behind? slower than me!
Second wind: strange serenity,
automatic running, clear head.
Soon lost - palpitation,
The rest are long since back at school.
I totter in, incapable of speech.
'Well done,' says kind Mr Castle.
Soon he will leave science teaching
(at the blackboard, chalk in both hands -
he's ambidextrous, look!
marking out perfect symmetries;
explaining rainbows, created one)
to be a potter* - from his wheel and kiln
mere clay, glazed, is art, lovely and serene.
Soon I gave up harriers, took up poetry,
slow trees, the chance of a rainbow.
*Len Castle, b.1924, New Zealand's foremost potter
22 October 2008
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