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I never thought I’d write a hockey poem

This poem was originally composed while I was poet laureate of the City of Edmonton, for the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts — which happened to be in the same week of the Stanley Cup playoffs, when the whole city was breathlessly hanging on the outcome.


“Well, I have been trying to think of a poem for tonight. Of course poems are supposed to be about the deep meaning of life. So naturally I started thinking about quantum physics – figuring that’s deep enough.

Now there’s a principle called “quantum superposition.” It says we don’t know the state of something like an electron or a quark until we measure it. This may sound as though physicists simply have a good, firm grasp of the obvious. But, in fact, it’s an extremely weird idea.

Scientists aren’t just saying we don’t know where an electron is until we get out the electron scanning microscope. They’re saying that the darn thing is everywhere until we observe it. It is actually in all possible states simultaneously. Only when we measure it will it collapse into one defined state.

That seemed like a sufficiently deep thought to inspire me. So out of it has come this poem, called:

I never thought I’d write a hockey poem

Climbing dim stairs
at midnight, when spring has struggled back
like the shifting fortunes
of a playoff series and the may tree is shaking out
its tasselled blossoms,
while the full moon skims down the sky,
a white puck.
A mile or two away, on the frozen-cloud surface
of the real arena,
a winter sport is superimposed on spring.
Third period
of overtime, and young men battle back and forth,
trying to collapse
wave on wave of possibility to a point
of dense rubber
observed at last in one net or another.
But I am going off to bed,
leaving fortune
in a superposition of states. Not realizing
I’ll awake
to a radio announcer’s words – We won – and find
that gladness scores
an absurd and unexpected slapshot.
It’s not specific consequences of a victory
that really matter –
not the celebrating crowds that surge from bars,
a muddled wave machine
of jubilee and mob. Not the poet who observes
within herself
a tremour of unfamiliar fandom and a poem.
It’s the mad fact
that we live every moment of our lives in overtime –
a condition
of entangled futures waiting to be observed.
May flowers
and blue lines, uproar and moonlight
in the kind of world where anything
might happen.


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