Lakeshore

By 
Michelle Barker

Arriving at the lakeshore
one morning
I came upon a poem

not of pristine sailboats
cutting into precise horizons
nor of the watercolour sunrise,
nor even of the sound
the water makes as it drags itself
like rattled chains
across a rocky shore

no, I found a corpulent woman
sitting beside the calm waters
of Lake Simcoe
shaving her legs

I’d wanted to be alone

I wasn’t looking for a poem
at all but rather
working out a jealousy
chewing on it
like an old piece of gum

and so was unsurprised
to spy the plastic fork
left behind by picnickers

lazy Kleenex
floating in the water
a child’s forgotten ball
bright pink against
the dawn-coloured rocks

all seemed confirmations
of what I knew already
about people

but then there was the woman
by herself shaving
unaware that I was watching
or maybe unconcerned

and somehow I found grace
in her rhythmic strokes of razor
the pull and swish
upon cathedral legs

grace is that way
it sneaks up behind you
when you thought
you’d wanted solitude
when you thought
you would choose ugliness
and refuse the poetry
of a fat woman and her razor

and the way when she’s finished
she ambles up the path
to a man at a picnic table
waiting.

Michelle Barker is originally from Vancouver but now lives in Hatley, Quebec. She has published both fiction and non-fiction, and received a National Magazine Award for personal journalism in 2002. Her poetry has appeared inRoomDescantCicadaCahoots, and The Mitre.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

Room relies on subscriptions from readers like you. Help us continue to promote and support diverse women and genderqueer authors and artists by subscribing today.

SUBSCRIBE

Currently on Newsstands

  • Queer Issue
    Room 41.3, Queer
    Edited by Leah Golob

    In this issue:

    Adèle Barclay, Joelle Barron, Nicole Breit, Mary Chen, Lucas Crawford, Jen Currin, Pamela Dodds, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jess Goldman, hannah harris-sutro, Leah Horlick, Sam Jowett, Ness Lee, Annick MacAskill, Alessandra Naccarato, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Marika Prokosh, Amal Rana, Siobhan Roca Payne, Leah Sandals, Hana Shafi, Arielle Spence, Samantha Sternberg, Sanchari Sur, K.B. Thors, Corey Turner, Jackie Wykes

    .