‘Grey is the forelock now of the Irishman’


Grey is the forelock now of the Irishman,
stick-handler of my roaring Twenties birthright,
F. Scott Fitzgerald of the sporting world,
(and, between games, father to me).

My beautiful brain-washed Canadian sons
are bringing in the whole neighbourhood
to see the old pro alive,
the all-round right-wing Maple Leaf god,
Adonis of an arena now crumbled
and fallen into the cannibal maw of mobs.

The boys, crowding in at the door,
surround him with a fiery ring of worship,
envying his eyebrows,
thick with scars inflicted by the high sticking
of old idols, Clancy, Morenz, Horner –

(and, my god, one of them is standing at attention!)

When I was their age, unholily dreamful,
full of the same power of innocence,
I saw crowds pick him up and carry him away,
policemen trampled down,
hysterical women following their infatuation
to the barricaded hotel-room doors,
crying in the corridors
their need for illusion;

and I remember the millionaires who courted him
whose money had not bought them youth
and the golden skates of fame;
one of them especially used to invite him
into his suite at the Royal York for an oyster feed,
then ordered up by phone,
crustaceans, wine, stove, pans, chef and all;
another used to send him every Christmas
suitably engraved silver dishes
which my mother never used;

I remember my father, too, in the headlines,
on the gum cards, in the rotogravure,
and how, in the pasture, there was nothing
to charge but shadows and, in the dark beyond night,
bright enourmous butterflies crossing the moon\
of his disenchanted vision; I heard him cry out to them
in another room but they stayed in his eyes
until we were all well-marked by the days
of his going down into ruin.

Wrinkled now is the brow of my all-star father
standing in the doorway
of his grandchildren generation
who yet must learn,
in smaller forums and with less limelight,
how heroes are really made.

~ Joan Finnigan

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