Retreat Diary

First Order of the Full Life

Original Text: 
Margaret Christakos, Sooner (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2005): 119-21. PS8555 .H675 S66 2005 Robarts Library
1And then there is the return and the return again, back to the city which
2loses everything at 4:11 one radiant yellow afternoon, and so back to the
3lake where energy replenishes its own grass-scented appetite and loons
4duck and ducks loop and a young catfish is absconded to a bucket from a
5swamp and the children perk up at its funny feline whiskers as it skitters in
6cloudy frantic purgatory, giddy as a kitten except for an implicit panic
7shared by all creatures grabbed (even kindly) from their origins and set to
8circle in a plastic pail. Oxygen is not enough for a decent life, no, one can
9gather the desire for return and refine its slick blue-oiled feathers and
10fashion a cable through which the readied shafts, line up one after the
11next, shoot, sailing each on its flight path home like a single heroic
12spasmotic sperm or stretchy ovulatory jelly discharge caught by the
13wadded fleece of a gym sock held tight to snuff fourteen-year-old lust
14from the presence of an eavesdropping babysitter. Why is it hard to bear
15the individual's trueheart greed, his or her propellant need which scripts all
16hope into a score of actions that displace some other dream from its
17marshside amble? If you wish to fuck yourself, fine, yet soon swims the
18premise of another organism, ballooning its own plump cheeks to find the
19stuff it wants to feed on, to be filled by, or to fuck in cascading jolts of
20forward-moving impulse, and where will the excess power-rush crash if
21that one pure wish is stunted or shut out? A catastrophe is what evolves of
22a catfish, O poor little catfish!, when scooped up for a take-home trophy
23of certain poster kids' nature hunts, who search apostle-like for their
24own essence in among the cattails and sunfish. O, error! O, horny toads
25galumphing by the cottage's back patio, hiding in the shadow of the gas-powered
26barbecue, charading the wallflower wattage of stones.
27There are certain days when she/he desires to write about the body. On
28others: his/her body. To which do the asshole, the tits, the balls, the cunt
29belong? Forcing a shuttlecock from side to side, quick, between two racquets
30raised for the arrival of sensation and sense: What springs to life at the
31mention of touch, how the word arcs and bobs in the air on its path to
32making contact with skin, brain, palette of the outthrust tongue, bounces
33to the back of the throat and is gulped like sex into the sanctum of
34her/himself, the low tucked-inside moist pad secreting juices and scent and
35muscling urges. Is she or he inside or outside identity when he or she stuffs
36it in her or him, crossing hairs and siting a soon-felt separateness wherein
37and so far as he/she can tell, the simmering body misses its limits? Stir the
38body already, stir him/her into it.
39To make a gesture of retreat and re-entry. Unlike the wind or rock or sand
40clogged with water at the edge of the lake, or even weather's constant
41shifts which remove static from the picture. To masturbate is to set the
42body his/her swirls in motion clockwise and lengthwise and with the
43hand's fingers to rub and strum the kettle's metal side bright with
44buoyancy and how the midst of her/him rises to the shape of whatever
45he/she's thinking.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Margaret Christakos and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from her in writing.