Passing beauty: poem

January 10, 2023

Passing beauty

It's moving, just ahead
of the player's most clever feet.
Every four years, we fill a cup,
then pour it out, a month of dreams.
Was it just last week that Bergkamp
flicked with orange elegance,
side-footing space and time?
No, he is long gone now, 
off fielding fifty years.
Others follow.  Messy time
melts beauty, remoulds it, 
casts it always anew.
It never ages, constantly fired,
as we fade, we watchers,
yesterday's players, passing.
Twenty sips at the cup
will fill a lifetime;
held safe in keeper's hands.

PS Cottier

This football poem was first published in Eureka Street, and then in broadsheet (New Zealand), no 13, Special World Cup football issue, 2014.  Finally (before today!) in Boots, a new edition of Mark Pirie’s 2014 football poetry anthology, 2017.
I refuse to look up how old the Dutch player Bergkamp is now!

I am not the only one still suffering minor withdrawal symptoms after the end of the World Cup.  Great to see Argentina win, and the pun on the word 'messy' in my poem is deliberate.

I am very much looking forward to the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year.  

Image Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mouth brooding

In damp mulch, he swallows young like knowledge.
In a quiet vocal sac (now choked from croak)
they flow into commas, hoping to punctuate
the forest’s leafy library of tales. He spits!
Out pops a haiku of wiggle,
a soft finger of amphibian,
pooling into an anthology of puddle.
Seven froglet booklets, sprightly as thoughts,
swim towards their future. Must this language,
this webbed poem, be forever lost?

P.S. Cottier

Hop in! There's no recycling either.

The mouth brooding frog, of Chile and Argentina, also known as Darwin’s frog, is related to the gastric brooding frogs (I am not making this up) that used to live in Australia but which are now presumed extinct. The female gastric brooder would swallow her young; the male mouth brooder does the same sort of thing, but in a slightly less thorough way. I believe there were two types of gastric brooding frog, both now gone, as recently as the 1980s. I have to check this, but I believe that the cane-toad which continues to munch its way through a lot of our wild-life, may originally have come from Chile, via Hawaii. (Our fault, not Chile’s!) So there’s another terrific amphibian link with that country.

Here’s a link to an Australian site with information about frogs and frog conservation. And an American one. You’ll have to google it yourself for elsewhere.

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