A boy worth his salt, having stayed
for a last weary swim, finds
himself at the bottom
of the canal.
Having not omitted this rite
of passage, his wish for a meaty fist
to grip his collar and heave him
out is translucent
in its purity.
Our boy retches and gasps
obligingly on shore when fished
out, blue-cheeked, sodden.
(A part of him wishing now
that he could measure how much
water he is puking up.)
A boy feeling his oats investigates the levers
and shafts of the grain elevator and tips
into the stuff.
Having memorized the dusty slip
of wheat filling every fold,
he squeaks for help.
Chastised, our boy coughs
chaff for a week.
A boy feeling flush offers to hold
a skate strap in need of a trim
while a narrow-footed friend hefts
his father’s axe, the rusty head nodding
even as it begins its downward arc.
All the way home, he cradles
the hand like it was a runt, like it was a pet
he’d begged for and trod on in the middle
of the night.
Our boy’s whorls and ridges soak
into the door’s hungry grain where he hesitates
before going in.
The kerchief full of blood
and clots? A butcher’s rough parcel,
A boy feeling fiesty strikes
flint in a neighbour’s loft just to hear
the tongues of fire speak.
A barrel of oats being a powderkeg,
his handiwork soon lights
fuses all through the barn.
He screams almost as loud as the fire did climbing
the walls when, as a warning, he is whipped
in the town square
a week later.
His mother, watching, flinches
as though it was her being lashed.
* * *
This is my third poem in three days over at May Day.
I'm not sure why I'm doing this, except that I'm excited (but also feeling pre-sentiments of pain) about doing a poem a day for the blog's fifth anniversary...
In other news, M and I will be retreating from May 10-17 in a lovely little house in St. Georges, MB, thanks to the kindness of a writer friend.
Plans include investigating the local sections of the La Verendrye trail and walking the dunes at Grand Beach. Also, sickening amounts of reading and thinking.
Unfortunately, you can steal wireless internet from the nearby library, so I'll have no excuse for not posting my (ulp!) daily poems.