An Elegy for Gord Downie—
via A Review of Coke Machine Glow)
Elegantly trick-riding rain—
Savvy as Grant Fuhr in the crease—
Levitates militantly, but
Still drops, freckling, speckling sidewalks
In Kingston (ON); its task gets slurred:
Unlike a crack squad of hockey
Players, whose narrow explosions
Propel a puck, forward and back,
With prestigious impact—as if
They’re families of mechanics?
Wasn’t “He Who Walks with the Stars”—
The same—gifted with poet genes,
Striking, pursuing Excellence?
Never once inconspicuous,
He vanished intermittently
From wine-country sunflowers to inns—
Under a chrome moon or brass sun—
With his band, so tragically hip,
Loping from moping bar to dope,
Yankee nightclub where the “plastic
Vampire teeth” turn out to be real,
And the hits echo revenge-porn—
Grumpy chitchat, gritty upchuck—
Fools smacking dull guitars, punch-drunk
Drum kits, scuffing up Gothic airs.
Some hi-fis clarify a sewer?
He’s too soon dead who was a son—
A husband, a brother, who knew
Canadian was cinnamon-glaze
Donuts dripping maple syrup,
Or to roam Withrow Park, or strum
A guitar as if effecting
A slap-shot, or find th’exotic
Quite at home—The Group of Seven,
Al Purdy’s poems, curried poutine….
He knew that Canadian meant
“Anti-social” poets enjoying
“Long grass” in the wintry stretches,
Pitching the mind’s Rocky Mountains
Toward the sun. Yes, he knew that
Canadian means bundling up
With loved ones, and not letting go.
[“Elegy for Gord Downie.” Recited in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by Percy Hatfield, MPP, on March 8, 2018. Official Report of Debates (Hansard). 148. 2nd Session, 41st Parliament. 7709.]