Friday, April 28, 2006

A hockey poem for Brian

I can’t cheer for Tampa Bay, too many
painful memories of Florida: a fear of
sharks nipping at my heels in the ocean;
the triple threat of a hotel room, HBO and
trucker speed.

No, I’ll stick with Ottawa, even though
it reminds me of uncomfortable breakfasts,
a bitter cold and never knowing what to do
with my hands.

There are no atheists in foxholes, no fence
sitters during playoffs, no regret that can’t
be forgiven.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Admitting a thing or two about the forces of Nature

I am nothing like a bear; I do not shit
in the woods. Although I try; to be a good sport,
wear extra socks, hold tent poles

buckle up, buckle down

wait patiently for food to be pulled down
from trees (our life in the woods is governed
by the presence of bears)

missing soft tacos and home delivery.

Why can’t I stop thinking about summer
camp? Stories of spiders crawling in
sleeping girls’ ears & laying eggs

stories that never turn out well

a bedwetting bunkmate, a boy named
Patrick & a first kiss (just before learning
I was not alone), mysterious bites

a call for ointment & a damp cloth.

I readjust our mattress over rocky ground,
then adjust it again, wishing I had insisted
on air because air must be better than foam

the illusion of never touching earth.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Walking through his mother's house

They let themselves in the back way,
avoiding prying neighbours’ eyes.

Leaving their shoes by the door,
they discard clothes,
                              piece, as they pass
through rooms, but keep their socks
on like old fashioned porn actors,
feet sinking in thick carpet,

It feels like trespassing, like
they’ve entered a place they
don’t belong. “Maybe we’re ghosts,”
he says
          lightly touching furniture
only this contact will prove he is,
in fact, in his mother’s house,
that he isn’t, in fact, a ghost, although
he never tells her this, just as
          she doesn’t
                              she still can’t decide
whether or not she loves him,
despite saying the words dozens of times.

The house smells of sachets and pot pourri,
a little floral,
a little spicy, figurines of flower bouquets,
hand painted porcelain petals blooming
in china pots, decorate the living room,
landscapes hang
          over the chesterfield
                    and side board
                              and mantle.

She enjoys the quiet
of this suburban home,
no sounds of traffic
          or sirens,
                    upstairs neighbours
                              or television sets, only the low hum
of central air filling the room, until
she notices his tapping;
a soft beat along the sofa,
a light thump,
                    then a rap on a tabletop;
                              two taps, a quick drag
                                        with his index finger,
then another beat, lost in his rhythm.

He might have left a trail in dust,
          if there was any dust to be found.

She preferred a solid paper trail,
found bits or photos,
          newsprint pamphlets on Christ, a Monopoly game piece
          (the car, found on a park bench), a motel receipt (Room 4,
          an illicit affair, she hoped), four third place track and field
          ribbons fixed together with a safety pin, a list of do’s and
that came with a new hair dryer (including #7:
          Never use while sleeping), a birthday card ripped then
          taped together again (many happy returns, Jack!),
                    she keeps in a box, and another box,
                              inside a trunk.

He leads her into the kitchen
where she leans
          her naked body
                    against the counter
and reads aloud, advice
found on magnets, promotional items
from the local fire department; “Never give
fireworks to small children,” she announces,
before smiling at him,
          a sweet smile,
                    almost tender, then adds,
“Alcohol and fire are a dangerous mix,”
this time attempting a frown that
he does not believe.

She likes his smile,
          his thin lips that curl up on one side,
                    likes when he adds extra emphasis,
raising a brow and rolling his eyes
in mock ecstasy,
making her feel a bit light headed
so that she wonders if this is,
          in fact, love
                    but doesn’t feel qualified to say.

He matches her words of wisdom
with some of his own, “Never leave
luggage unattended” he says; placing his hands
on either side of her,
          angling in,
                    he adds,
“In case of snowstorm, always keep
chocolate and candles in the glove compartment,”
          and she giggles, conscious
                    her flesh moves, despite standing still
                              and decides not to care.

She pushes herself up
from the counter, locking eyes
with him, standing straight,
attempting her tough girl stance.

“And if you must shoot,” she says
          “Aim low.”

Without realizing, they both arrive
at the same conclusion, that perhaps
          salvation is possible;
they might not lose their way if they
remember all the Dick Van Dyke
Saturday morning PSAs; to drop
          and roll at the first sign of danger,
                    stick close to the floor in a smoke filled room,
                              don’t open a door if the handle is hot,
but they keep their thoughts to themselves
as silence returns
and only the chill of the late
afternoon between them.

They do
          not touch,
                    their bodies,
                              a series of near misses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An epopee revealed, one morning at a time

Your hands, square, perfect
for opening jars,
          setting up tents,
                    launching boats, hold

a book of Nabokov poems (you
prefer poetry that rhymes)
and nudge me awake

to read aloud a poem:
          a family picnic and a man
                    who disappears into a tree.

Friday, April 14, 2006

morning observation #62

I’ve been thinking too much lately         about you

standing at the end of the bed         walking through
our kitchen         a kitchen I imagine         painted blue

your bare feet on tiles         your bare belly against mine.

I’ve been thinking too much         lately of you

holding your car keys         waiting for me to dress
sneaking a look at your watch         your hand against

the door jam         worn smooth         with too much worry

lately         I can only think of you.

Iona, at play

She likes to wear blue. Soft
waves. Or green.

Rolling. While she is straight.
Hips that didn’t broaden. A

teenager, stretched thin.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

morning observation #59

M. remarked: I will do anything
if you ask three times.

M. remarked: I will do anything
if you close with a wink.

M. remarked: I will do anything
if you, and I, conspire.