Friday, February 20, 2009

Theirs is a relationship

Theirs is a relationship of elevators and back stairs
whose risers are just the right height
for a guilty ex-boyfriend as he walks away,
his eye moving from one lighted window to another.
A serial tom? Hard to know as exhaust billows from him,
from her mouth on his. He marvels that he only has to change
his approach, his retreat. And this second time
there’s the rush of several stories
taken all at once.

Theirs is a relationship of the drifted-in: my mother
from the pulp and paper mills in the valleys
between t-barred hills, my father from the peeled branches
and then the rest of the tree, mired in clay. Their house underwater
when he was five, siblings scattered to friends in the country.
But he barely remembers that. No, this is how it goes:
her apartment is on an anywhere block, its elevators groaning
but his mother’s house shifts sweetly on silty banks. And the break-up?
They basked in spring sun as all the windows
in all the world got bricked.

Theirs is a relationship of tinny canoes set into water
gummy with fish flies and making for fresh,
a practical bucket between her knees we’ll all drink from.
Theirs is a relationship of cannonballs and hot beery hours
easing into the lake. She fishes from the canoe with a borrowed rod
as he squints from shore. And when the pike strikes she reels it in,
riveted as it jerks, panicked heart, between the canoe’s ribs.
By the time she reaches the dock, wet fin along
her forearms, tail lashing her legs,
all she’s got is: kill it kill it. …

* * *

I've been working on a number of things lately: a review for the Winnipeg Free Press, a sonnet (bah! wretched thing!) for my poetry class with Catherine Hunter, curriculum for my upcoming Creative Retirement class.

In addition to working with my beloved Fall Back cohorts - Anna Swanson and Gilly Wigmore - again, I'm also trying to have something useful to say as the Buffalo Runs book edges ever closer to publication.

You'll recall that the point of this collection, which also includes Linda Besner and Michael Lithgow, is to put the three of us into critical conversation with each other.

I'm frequently critical, but usually in the nasty nitpickery kind of way as opposed to the analytical intelligent way, so hopefully I'll have something, anything to say.

Finally, I just joined a weekly writers' group. And got teary, again, when describing why and who I write for. I am often vehement (see above), but I am not often surprised - and then made teary - by my vehemence. But there was hot lemon loaf on offer and everyone there seems accomplished and also humble in the midst of all their striving, which I appreciate.

Anyways, this poem, from the new ms., seems far enough along to post, so here it is.


(And come out to the Mondo!Purdy Video Dance Party on Saturday at Aqua if at all possible...)


Brenda Schmidt said...

Hot lemon loaf!!! Heavenly writers group or what!

Shawna Lemay said...

Excellent poem. And three cheers for the lemon loaf and humble striving!

Ariel Gordon said...

Thanks, you two...can you believe I declined a piece? (I'd eaten literally seconds before leaving the house, throwing down my cutlery and picking up my bag on the way out.)

m said...

You know when you are in good company when tears emerge and dessert is offered. Nothing like the company of the like-minded.