Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kate Hargreaves, Leak


Windsor splints me. Splints shins—feet bat-battering asphalt cracks thud thud thwack thwack thwack thwack shoelace plastic tip clipping concrete. thfooooo—exhale fast against damp armpit air. Pause one foot on pavement, other shoe rolling over ants and grass and woodchips two feet from dog shit sizzle in the haze. thhoooo—exhale re-tie loop over around and through, tie the ears together and tap toe towards sneaker end. Stand. Sweat slips between vertebrae, over spine juts like waterfall rocks—slish slide slim. On feet and level with horse heads over sparse hedge over-pruned by ninety-five degree weeks and days, nights of dry roots, brown branches, crisp. Rind warming in racer-back lines, heat-dying Friday afternoon onto shoulders arms and calves. Out and back: laterals around perambulator pushers and camera couples pausing to snap the elephant and her babies. thfoooooothfoooooooo—hard breaths in time with glitter on the wet streets calves and quads suck blood and O2 from head spinning and concrete clumps cling to clay soles. Windsor sticks to my sneakers, sod, cement, gum, cast-iron eggs and birds catch on my laces. thfooooooo—exhale, and scuff rubber on road, to scrape off stones, cedar chips, Tim Horton’s cups and spare change. Shin splints. Cable-knit air chokes my out-breath. thf—bronze base casts over my shoes. Drags me toward river railings and drills toes into sod. Headphones pumping dance dance dance till your dead at path-side. Playlist over. Riverside runner: artist unknown. Bronze, textile and sports tape. Splint into the soil.

Windsor, Ontario poet Kate Hargreaves’ first trade poetry collection, Leak (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2014), is striking for the sounds she generates, allowing the language to roll and toss and spin in a fantastic display of gymnastic aural play so strong one can’t help but hear the words leap off the page. Utilizing repetition, a variety of rhythms and homonyms, Hargreaves’ poems mine the relationship between language and the body, and rush and bounce like water through seven suite-sections: “Heap,” “Chew,” “Skim,” “Pore,” “Chip,” and “Peel.” As she writes to open the poem “HIP TO BE SQUARE”: “Her hips sink ships. Her hips just don’t swing. Her hips fit snugly in skinny jeans. Her calves won’t squeeze in. Her hips check.” She manages to make the clumsy, awkward and graceful tweaks and movements of the body into an entirely physical act of language, bouncing across the page as a rich sequence of gestures. Given the fact that she also published a collection of short fiction, Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Windsor ON: Black Moss Press, 2012), “a collection of prose vignettes inspired by women’s flat-track roller derby,” this writer and roller derby skater’s ability to articulate text in such an inspired and physical way shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, but the fact that it is done so well is something of a marvel.


She pores.
She pores over her psychology textbook.
She pores over the late-night pita menu.
She pours water over tea steeps and pours.
She pore-reduces. She scours.
She scrubs.
She pores over her blackheads in the mirror.
She skins.
She skins her ankle with a dollar-store pink plastic razor.
She nicks.
She grazes.
She snacks at half-hour intervals throughout the day: trail-mix,
      dried cranberries, arugula, celery.
She scans the fridge for leftover spinach.
She pours olive oil and vinegar on lima bean salad.
She pours oil on troubled waters.
She waters the daffodils.
She never rains.
She showers.
She buzzes her head.
She hums.
She drones.
She counts. She sorts.
She: out of sorts.
She’s out on a limb.
She limps.
She wilts.
She droops.
She drips coffee on the floor.
She sips.
She slips on wet tiles.
She sinks.

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