Mennonite Poetry Home | Larry Nightingale



Hut-Hut! Hike! (lines for Buck and Angus)

When the local squad has lost
its last couple stoutest gentlemen
all-time, the fans and franchise
will surely feel that stunning wallop
as I in my bruised burnt-orange colours
feel it now, hearing the day's sporting news,
kneeling in my low wind-whipped huddle
of thoughts and feelings.

These fellows, out on time's chewed-up gridiron
with the old brown laced pointy-nosed pigskin,
in cleats and pads and helmet, were old school.
They were tough, and they were tender sweet.
We heard them grunt and toss their thick heads,
this bullish tandem, saw the centre's quick flip,
then watched the pretty finessed spiral,

even as you watched their big-boned bodies
rise and fall and fall and rise. Rise slow-mo
against the heavy pull of gravity. In vertical tug,
but with a vision for the long-view—'going long'
going deep. For ten and thirteen seasons,
a decade of campaigns and more,
the dust never settled round them.

Quick brains at times slowed and concussed,
their limbs wrapped and bandaged,
but the strategic agile will and desire
ever creative and alive, those tails still twitching.

In that history of shared cadences between them,
centre-man and pivot, between old mighty Buck
and Angus, one last sharp rhythmic 'hut-hut, hike'
will always echo on, though buried under
a great brute vocabulary's pile and tangle,

articulate, reverberating round the roofless stadium
and out, whether grandstands be rowdy filled
or left empty and forlorn, with one thoughtful man
remembering whatever last gasp effort.
Their numbers hung in the halls
of local memory. The memories, the fame of them,
our bruised and bloodied best, our stoutest gentlemen,
chin-straps undone, sweat-soaked, still
may they ever play—the good game.

© Larry Nightingale




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