Julie L. Moore
As rain pounds the pavement,
my father, mother, and I sip our soup
at Tim Horton’s after church
where their choir sang of triumphal
entry, death, and resurrection.
Somehow, our conversation turns
to my grandfather, a gambling man,
a carpenter who lost half his thumb
to a saw but shuffled cards like a pro,
riffling them so they’d intertwine,
smoothly, like the fingers of a supplicant,
then building a bridge where cards
fell on their faces into one neat deck.
My dad remembers nights
his mother sent his older brother
to find his father, ensnared
in another game—the poker
he’d picked up while playing
hockey for the Toronto St. Pats,
always trying to relive the year
he won it all, a defenseman
who collected the Stanley Cup.
I visualize his picture hanging
in the Halifax Hockey Hall of Fame:
Tall in uniform, steady
on his skates. How did he fall,
becoming the man who threw
grocery money into the pot?
How did he conjure the nerve
to call my father after he was married
with three kids of his own, desperation
straining through the receiver,
beg for a loan? Did my grandfather
wince when my dad said, No,
I know you’ll lose it all?
And what does that do to a man
like my dad who worked two jobs,
logging 60-hour weeks,
so we could live in Moorestown
where the schools were good?
What does it do to a man to tell his father No?
Does the son carry the word’s wound
all his life, feel it even now, thirty years
after his father’s death,
as his broth grows cold?