In Mama Mancini’s guest apartment, two racquets above the bed
What travellers would gleefully arise
from their beds, seize the wooden racquets
to wander through narrow alleyways
stumbling over the detritus, the restaurant rubbish
past the legless man, now sleeping across
his home made trolley, to search for a court —
whites whiter than white, the promise of fair play
the powerful Medicis on either side of the square
aced out by love
a back hand, a double fault, an under spin.
What fancies, what flights of imagination
possessed Mama to furnish a guest
with such pursuits? We do not ask and if, late at night
a tennis ball comes softly thudding though our open shutters
we will know it is only the previous travellers
returning from their wondrous sport.
Frankie McMillan is the author of four books, the most recent of which, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions ( Canterbury University Press ) was longlisted for the 2017 NZ Ockham awards. In 2005 she was awarded the Creative New Todd Bursary. Other awards include winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition in 2009 and winner of the New Zealand Flash Fiction Competition in 2013 and 2015. In 2014 she held the Ursula Bethell writing residency at Canterbury University and in 2017 the University of Auckland/Michael King writing residency. Her latest project is Bonsai: best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand ( CUP, 2018) edited with Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe.