We haven’t begun to consider the injustices associated with beauty. There was a very shy, overweight girl trying to find her seat at the Sydney Olympics. . .


Overweight, and bony-jawed, she cowers,
one step at a time, up the tiers of the Dome. Someone
has got her to come here – her mother perhaps:
They won’t come again in your time! The teams flex,
and pepper the goalies in warm-up: high-fives,
and clatter, and edge. But what draws your gaze
is the way that her whole body pleads,
in its twisted withdrawal, for the seat she can’t find.
She clutches the handrail for comfort. She searches
without looking up. Such hopeful gestures:
the Def Leppard t-shirt, the limp knot of lace in her hair.
She is maybe nineteen, maybe more. But you know
when the first chance arises – some drunkard,
some brother’s mad mate – she will say yes,
and pray to hold on: her bed like a plain in the dark
where there are no kind choices.
What horror
have we laid down here: when a girl’s need
first leans like a bud towards sun – and the one thing
that happens is judgement – the great stone
that lies on our kind like the distance to God?
So w
e cannot imagine a lover:
someone whose hand turns her head in delight
and in awe at her presence here too:
smoothing aside all she’s learnt of the old prohibitions –
wonder, attentiveness, bubbling, upwelling –
like the pooling of permission, of forgiveness?