Counting Out the Millennium


John Oughton was born in Guelph, Ontario, and spent his formative years there, except for two years on Egypt and Iraq. He has since lived in Japan and nova Scotia as well as Toronto. Oughton studied literature at York University in Toronto, and the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where he worked closely with Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman and Robert Duncan.

Active as a literary journalist and reviewer, he has published three previous books of poetry: Taking Tree Trains (1973), Gearing of Love (1984) and Mata Hari's Lost Words (1988).

Pecan Grove Press

Counting Out the Millennium
John Oughton



Erin's Birth

"The face of the earth was covered with water..."
CThe Book of Genesis

You waited until the due date
and in the honoured hour of the wolf
3:45, the first day of fall,
the start of Yom Kippur,
the closest approach of Mars to Earth,
the cusp of Libra and Virgo,
the waters that held you moved out.

We started you in Banff
cooking you up between sulphur springs, wine and
sliding skis through diamond fields of snow.
And we skated in the shade of Lake Louise's glacier,
balancing on thin steel over
the clear, crazed ice.
We made you with pleasure in the strength and softness
of our bodies, my tadpoles doing the Canadian crawl
to your mother's spore, the other half
of who you'd be.

You took root and held, your mother
sure from the start you'd stay.
She called me from a phone booth
to tell me she'd changed
into a song with accompaniment.
Then you hung on through her nausea and pain,
airplane flights, and a miserable month
of fighting Nova Scotia drizzle,
even through the rip spring made
as it wedged open winter's frozen grin.

You started to dance early:
at first a ball bouncing
to the red heartbeat above
then a tiny astronaut on a water walk
to the end of your line
so alert we called you Booter:
you'd kick every hand
or stethoscope laid on you.


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November 11, 2003

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