It looks like the Ark. And that makes sense — the game
is also a species that needs two sides to survive. If
Genesis had been set in the sunny badlands of Alberta,
there it would be on the ocean of God’s disappointment:
the Big Boat, a sheet of ice in its belly, and a 40-day
playoff to settle it once and for all. I remember the night
we took Louis de Bernières to the Dome for the Flames’
opening round tilt against the Hawks. It was his first game,
and it ran into triple overtime. It ended in a bad bounce,
the way all things end that must because the body weakens,
and puck is the Devil’s most endearing name. I apologized
to Louis for the endlessness of play. It’s all right, he said,
I’m English. I watch cricket. The Dome gathered me in
when I first arrived, reading my poems to the echo of hockey
below deck — voices calling out from the rink, the wooden
report of passes and shots under a roof the shape of a giant ear.
I fancy that the building actually hears us, and the spectators,
famously quiet in Calgary, take the cue and come to listen.
The best sound in the game, they’ll tell you, is made when all
else is silent and the skater’s blade etches into frozen water
the path of a sharp bank, the ice turned to steam around silver.
The Stanley Cup was paraded in this place. Olympians went
head-to-head in a beauty fierce as plumage; people who never
raise their voices love openly, or hate, and when the conflict
subsides, and the tall doors open to the surrounding land, we all
walk down the mountain side by side with a story.

~ Richard Harrison

Richard Harrison is a multiple-award-winning poet and editor. His six books of poetry include Hero of the Play, which was launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Big Breath of a Wish, poems about his daughter’s acquisition of language. As well as hockey and literature (about which he co-edited the essay collection, Now is the Winter), Richard also contributes to the growing scholarship on the superhero narrative. With Lee Easton, he is the co-author of The Secret Identity Reader, 2010. Richard teaches composition, poetry, fiction, creative writing, and, most recently, a course in comics and graphic novels.

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