Clearing Out

Original Text: 

Matt Rader. Miraculous Hours. Gibsons, British Columbia: Nightwood Editions, 2005.

1Perched like a gargoyle at the gable end of the house,
2feet firmly fixed on the rough tar and shingles, ankles
3angled to the pitch and run of the roof, I was stooped
4and anchored by the job I had to do: guard the gutter-
5spout from a winter’s worth of soggy leaves and grime,
6while a steady push of lake water pulsed from the hose-
7mouth the entire length of the house. It was annual
8end-of-winter work and I was obligated to it since
9I professed no sense of vertigo the way my brothers did,
10no strange impulse to a header just for the hell of it.
11Hands numbed to dumb animals that fumbled
12and scooped the grungy residue and hurled it earth-
13wards like black-wet epithets on chores and work.
14Couple minutes and the cramps kicked in, so it was
15all shift and squat and shift again, each new position
16a gamble against gravity and wind. Who would do this
17for less than a case of Keith’s and a pack of JPS—minus
18two sticks—slipped into his coat pocket? Truth is,
19I craved the distance, the quick two-storey trip
20to a whole new perspective—doe-eyed satellite dishes,
21antennae like birthday wishes—good ear tuned
22to the trickle turned thrum of water, clear and true.
RPO poem Editors: 
Jim Johnstone
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Poem used with permission of the author.