At the centre of the circle of the Champions of the
World, Mario Lemieux hoists the Cup, kisses its silver
thigh, the names of men where his will soon be cut
with a finish pure as a mirror; around him, the
tumult. And Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach
in the NHL, named his first son Stanley when his
Canadiens won it in ’73 with a stonewall blueline and
a dizzying transition game. Every player on every
team who ever won the Cup gets to take it home; it
has partied on front lawns, swimming pools and in
the trunks of cars, and even the guy who left it by
the side of the road and drove away, still he thinks
of it as holy. And that word — holy — appears most
in the conversation of veterans who know how the
touch fades, the shoulder takes longer between days
of easy movement, how Bobby Hull passed on his
chance to drink champagne from its lip when the
Hawks won it ‘61 because he thought there’d be so
many in his life. Some take the Cup apart, clean the
rings, make minor repairs in their basements, and
then inscribe on the inside of the column the un-
official log of their intimate knowledge: This way
I have loved you.

<This one was published in 1994 in Hero of the Play, my book of 50 poems “in the language of hockey” as the notes on the book go. I was really interested in this book one to see how far I could take the metaphors and events in the game, how much of the rest of what a poem could speak of if I restricted myself to the terminology of hockey (or to writing about hockey in itself). I worked on the book for 4 years, reading very little but hockey journalism, stats pages and books. The result was a happy one. Though I found that the language of hockey had its limits, it could still do a lot, it could still reach out to things not-hockey and give them a life in its own words. The book also did very well. I launched it at the Hockey Hall of Fame in ’94, and at the Saddledome in ’95. It was reissued in 2004 as a 10th anniversary edition. We launched that one with a street hockey game: poets vs novelists. Final score: 1:1. RH>
© Richard Harrison, 2015

 

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