It’s November, so hockey season is well underway, both in terms of the pros and my beer league / pick-up skates.

That means the odd bit of gear repair pops up now and then.

Last week I had a goal mask issue arise at a Thursday night pick-up skate that quickly went from what seemed like a quick fix to: a few hours of initial investigation early Friday night, then an emergency run to ProHockeyLife to pick up a spare goal mask before they closed on Friday night so I could play at 11pm on Friday, to six or so additional repair hours on Saturday (that included a LOT of coffee, a bunch of different screwdrivers, a small drill, a hacksaw, a bunch of new parts, a few minor hand injuries, and a bunch of WD40, among other things). I now have a refurbished mask, a new spare mask, and a substantial draft of a new poem:


as though to remind us we’d left

something unruined or still to ruin.

– from “Birch Tree With Chainsaw” by James Lasdun



               As though to remind us we’d left

it all on the ice, my goalie mask’s gone

ahead & just failed. It’s evident – sweaty,

mid-headshake post-skate – that something’s not right.

There’s a give, but no take. The whole enterprise’s

elastic, a too eager nodding at what each shrug begs,

each stretch guesstimates.              On inspection,

it’s simple: the harness’s come loose, a snap’s

cracked. The shell’s gummed with a nondescript gunk.

But divorced from rink’s context, laid bare

& junked on the table’s pine strip, bone-white & cleft-spurred

at its edges & crown, the mask’s stark, dislocated –

a lone, near-skull denuded, unfreighted & parked

on display. Its hardware? Rusted fast, incoherent

& feral; furred once-screws sweat ochre

to a blood-rasped dust pox; a blight-fashioned frown.

Yet the mask’s steely cat’s eye all but

knowingly winks, the cage spot-splayed a mere twinge

from its former hard weld; a surface’s seeming belied.

In lieu? The slant, gleaming polish of awry gauge

as a guide; a mettle suggesting there might just be

something unruined. Or, still to ruin.


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