The Friday Poem: ACTIVITIES by Laura Vincent

A poem by Wellington writer Laura Vincent.

 

ACTIVITIES

 

You know when you’re not strong enough

to articulate your feelings because all of your strength

is being used for one thing and that one thing is

ACTIVITIES

endless ACTIVITIES

when that person invites you to paper-mâché a to-scale volcano

or to ride a bicycle across the frozen moors

or to play Equable ‘The Game of Math’ and even though you had plans already

you say YES without hesitation

YES I’ll help you make your own soap

YES I’ll wander round Bunnings finding materials to make decorations for the party

you haven’t invited me to yet

YES I’ll walk with you for two miles in the middle of the night

to fly a kite in the dark

YES I’ll dance in a forest to your friend’s jam band

as he gurns behind a vape cloud

YES I’ll watch the final Hobbit movie but in slow motion

because it really brings out Tolkien’s intention that way

YES I’ll climb a hill

 

In Elif Batuman’s book The Idiot Selin goes all the way to Hungary to teach English to try to appease the withholding Ivan

In the TV show Fleabag the main character keeps having talks in the dark about foxes with the Hot Priest

In the film Carol Therese goes to lunch and then to get a Christmas tree and then to Carol’s stately home

so you see everyone’s doing ACTIVITIES

and you have to agree to them all because you can’t let it end

and if you don’t say YES you could miss the thing

that finally gets them to tenderly hold your face

and look you in the eyes and say

 

I’m so glad you’re here let’s spend the rest of our time on this Earth

making each other’s lives amazing everything’s so hard

but it feels easier when you’re around let’s do this together YES

 

Or at least

 

Would you like to pash

here on this cliff-face that we’ve just scaled

 

Or at least

 

I noticed that you’re not talking about how sunburnt you’re getting

let’s go inside

 

But they never do so you just keep forlornly agreeing

to more ACTIVITIES and I can’t tell you

to simply express your feelings because

I’m not that stupid and I’m not that clever

instead I suggest

 

keep saying YES to ACTIVITIES

 

When they ask you to hike through your city’s most forbidding swamps

say YES then stride ahead and playfully push them into the mud

just playfully PUSH them and when they suggest a visit to that paperclip exhibition

say YES but first let’s quickly shop for a QUALITY WINTER COAT

then make them watch you try on FIFTEEN coats

and then you don’t even buy ANY

and when they want you to watch them practise the violin for forty minutes

and then get a smoothie without asking you a single question

about your life

tell them YES you’d love to drop everything for that

and then grab the violin out of their hands

that will never touch you

just GRAB that violin and start playing Zadok the Priest by Handel

and now you’re in charge

and you’ve jolted yourself out of your accommodating submersion

and you have BECOME THE ACTIVITY

and then throw their violin on the floor and run just RUN for miles

 

by yourself


The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books.


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.