Fountain of Youth

I fill the garden fountain
in the backyard every May 24

Sparrows crowd its rim hesitant
swimmers gossiping around the deep end
they shoulder-check for the right spot
dip and tilt, dip and tilt
Robins and birds I don’t know
drop travel-weary bodies into it

in the heat of parenting
birds drop in for a quick bath
a few minutes alone
resume their criss-cross flight
paths across summer

before the light changes
parents bring their young to the edge
one by one into the pool
their baptism before they leave

every September long weekend
I clean and put the fountain away
for another year when birds will return
their young already growing old

From Things that Matter Now, Frontenac House, 2009

~ Bob Stallworthy

Bob Stallworthy has 4 books of poetry published and an on-going e-book, In Silhouette: Profiles of Alberta Writers. His book, Optics, was short-listed for the 2004 W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize.

About Al Purdy, Bob says: “I was fortunate enough to see and hear Al Purdy read on several occasions. I return to his work again and again. I try to follow his example of making the ordinary of the day extra-ordinary.”


This poem has been posted as part of a tribute to Al Purdy, the man widely regarded as Canada’s first true national poet. The League of Canadian Poets has declared April 21 to be National Al Purdy Day. The “Purdy A-Frame Trust” has been started to raise funds to preserve Purdy’s famous home in Ameliasburg, Ontario. For more information or to make a contribution to the Trust contact: Jean Baird, 4403 West 11th Ave., Vancouver, BC, V6R 2M2. Phone: 604 224 4898 or email:


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