canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Kicking Away at It

by Matt Robinson

as a child, it was my soccer coach who
let me in on the secret; showed me
the trick to it. standing there, each of

us, with a leg held back and bird-like
hopping, he came up behind me and
simply said: focus on one thing, one spot

on the grass. and training my eye to
a piece of clover, i was steadied -
assured. and from that point on, through

each of our field-held rituals, i stared:
at bare patches of earth; at longish
blades of grass fortunate or wily enough

to have escaped the mower; at scraps
of paper; and, at times, even at
a shining dime, that in the midday

sun would signal to me from just
across the pitch. it was a foolish
sort of looking - we laughed at its

simple efficacy, did not see the use of it
beyond summer's shin-guarded play.
but now, it is early winter, and i am

here in another field, the grass having
slightly wilted, faded in the grip
of frost. and now, as they lower you

down - past the bare pilings of earth
there poorly covered by the green, but
artificial, trappings of ceremony - i find

myself staring at the stones. and
even as i struggle to maintain my balance
i am slowly moving back: from this

cool october now to the warmer junes
and julys when staring at the scarring
of a field was steadying. then the wind

picks up and sneaks underneath
my collar - and i am back here again,
craning slightly, awkwardly, to find

a spot beyond the crumbling edge of
the hole. i am peering again for that trick,
the secret that will allow me balance,

allow me to stand through this later,
straining ritual; through the sudden
tension and precariousness of my pose.

matt robinson, winner of the 1999 Petra Kenney Memorial International Poetry Prize, has a Creative Writing MA from UNB and is currently a PhD candidate in Canadian Literature there. He took 3rd Prize in THIS Magazine’s 2000 Great Canadian Literary Hunt. His first book-length collection of poetry, "a ruckus of awkward stacking," was published in September 2000 by Insomniac Press. He has published extensively in Canadian, American, British, and Australian journals. His work has been featured on CBC Radio and he is on the editorial board of The Fiddlehead.







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