A new poem by Whanganui poet Airini Beautrais.
We’ll rent a holiday home at the beach
with all of our children, seven to twenty-seven
and everyone will feel enthusiastic.
We’ll take towels and sunblock,
food and other necessities:
board games, insect repellent,
beer, a pop-up tent, a swingball set.
My children will listen to, and follow, instructions.
Yours will all feel like talking.
We’ll sit around the table at mealtimes
telling clean jokes. And in the evening,
hair wet from swimming, some of us
will hit that ball around that post
with rackets of moulded plastic.
The fuzzy rubber flies around, the game is a fine balance
between co operation and competition,
no one wants the string to go limp
and tangle up in the coil of wire
so that we have to untangle it while swearing.
It’s all about keeping momentum, like learning
to ride a unicycle. There’s laughter,
semi-rhythmic thwacks, sand thrown by feet.
There’s a golden light over everything,
not because we’ve gone back in time
to the nineteen-seventies, but because the sun
is glaring from between layers of stormcloud,
which could mean it will rain tomorrow,
but that’s okay because I brought my handmade set
of anarchist monopoly. The aim of the game:
to collectivise all the property
and convert the board into a community garden.
No one gets bankrupted and has a tantrum
or hides the dice under their butt, everyone
wants to make this work, and it will
if we all pull together, folks.
This won’t be a long weekend to remember,
it will be a blur, melded with all the others,
and when we look back at the albums,
we won’t recall which swingball episode it was.
Did I hear you say beach cricket? Are you with me?
We’ll sit and drink companionably on the porch.
At least be with me on the fish and chips,
be with me on the swingball,
The dip and lift, the returning motion, the full-circle.
No one can play a thing like that single-handed.
The Friday Poem is edited by Ashleigh Young. Submissions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.