Saddledome 2: After the Flood

Even more, it looks like the Ark, this time after the Flood has come and done God’s work, hull full of water, all the animals gone, and I feel more for Noah this time round, getting drunk every night since dry land, with the dim thought not forming but being revealed in that massive and sudden erosion of all that was secure: “Seriously? Everything?” Water is complicated; see how brown it is in these pictures, how full of the earth it leaves behind when the river packs up and heads back to bed. That’s microbial brown, fertility, earthworm world, the bottom of your feet if you walk for 40 days without a bath. I’ve loved the parabolic in its roof, the Saddledome; I’ll miss it when they build a bigger, fancy, American-style Entertainment Extravaganza where the game is only one channel within a television you take shelter in side by happy side. Even that is old hat: remember when the television was the pinnacle of coveting in any house? The Saddledome remembers those days, and they weren’t so long ago, though they are now suddenly far, far away like the time you dropped your car key down the sewer; I saw a lovely 42 inch tv sitting on a dolly outside someone’s home this morning, and I thought, even if that tv was brand new, what I want to steal is the dolly. My basement is the “event level” of the Saddledome, water all the way up to the expensive seats, shelves full of the books I read while I was finding my writing voice, boxes of archive in torrential disarray. I feel for the Dome. I feel for the memory of Theo Fleury hurling himself like a wildly thrown curling stone the length of the ice, arms pumping in a hockey joy so great he forgot for a moment his suicidally crippling secrets, that’s how happy a game can make us. What I’m looking for is the joy of the poem. The best lines from 30 years of paper tossed afloat are the ones I dismissed then or misread when I saw them. Consider: Some time in the early 1980s I wrote by hand this line for a poem, “Is this art/that I have mastered it so soon?” When I found it in the blurring water, I read it out loud and said, “Is this art, that I have misunderstood it so soon?” and it became a line for a poem at last. So here’s one lesson in a book of millions of things to learn. Poetry is play, even in the darkest of its discontents. Poetry is a sex abuse victim with their arms in air, cheering the power their body still has, poetry is, (he said to rhyme), the laughter after disaster has clattered to its end. That’s why the hockey book was the door for me from saying to writing, from myself to the poem, from me to you. That’s why.

~ 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.

To read more of Richard’s poetry, including the first Ode to the Saddledome click here.

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