Sunday 20 December 2020

Sunday Poem



For David Rothberg

Ice by chance, by fate or divine grace,
Ice as a prayer answered or seasonal necessity… We approve.
But ice by any means possible? Ice, a commodity
manufactured, apportioned, rented, sold by the hour?

No: the end, no matter how smooth and immutable,
cannot justify the means: ammonia, compressors, chain-link fences,
the whole rotten professional petrochemical sports industry…
They just want to make us skate—and drive—round in circles.

Hear, hear. But the kids do need to run some drills:
We have no power play and a pathetic penalty kill.
Can we not just have a practice, like other teams?
There’s the rub: we buy into it and the kids will as well.

A-ha the purist shows his true colours!
Next you’ll want to ban rubber pucks and plastic helmets.
How about refusing to consume? I’m coach. I decide.
Tomorrow it is. To Dave, my fellow Ottawan, this aside:

Seen the pond? I caught a glimpse as I drove by.
Minus twenty tonight. Imagine it all sheer and black.
Let’s skip practise, grab our skates, rope and sticks,
And ride our bikes down there first thing to tiptoe out

and test our convictions. Tap-tap. Give us a faith
sufficient to withstand, though free to crack,
a surface that inspires awe and dread.
What love does not tremble at the touch and quake?
How can it be ice if it doesn’t break?


By Richard Sanger, from Fathers at Hockey (Signal Editions Chapbook, 2020)