Randall Maggs’ poetry has appeared in numerous reviews and anthologies. His most recent collection, Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems (2008) was included in the Globe and Mail’s list of “Top 100 Books” for that year. In 2009, Night Work won the Winterset Award and the Newfoundland Book Awards’ E.J. Pratt Poetry Prize, and in 2010, it won the Kobzar Literary Award. As well, he has been a long-time participant in Newfoundland’s March Hare Festival of words and music and Artistic Director of the Festival since 2002. He lives on the west coast of Newfoundland.
“The greatest save I ever saw
in hockey,” says Plante, waving pages of notes
in his trapper hand, the black suit too tight and the tie
too narrow, emphasizing an angular face and a startling
inelegant sprawl as he tries in his chair to show Ward Cornell
just how Sawchuk, flat on his back in a pileup
in front, puts a pad high in the air
to save the game,
as Terry himself turns up. He’s come
straight from the ice in his gear for a rare interview,
easing himself and his leaden pads towards an awkward chair.
Cables, tables, precarious lights. Disaster a stumble away,
he knows about that.
He’s careful too with Plante’s enthusiasm,
shrugs off the compliments—the guys were clearing
rebounds, the forwards picking up their man.
Asked about the save, he looks away,
“I stuck up a leg,” as if to say like anyone would.
“He puts one on the ice it’s in. You know yourself,
Jacques, it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Plante resists a cozy acquiescence like a monk.
He seems too open, too unguarded for a goalie. The heart
of matters is what he wants to wade into, but this is Hockey Night
in English Canada. His catching hand comes up to make
a point, to ask about the sudden drop in weight,
over 200 pounds to 165 in a year, the trade, the brutal
Boston press, the train in the night to Detroit. But Terry
steers the questions off into a corner. “You do what you have
to do. You know I’ve always admired you, Jacques,
down at the other end.”
Plante sits back, unsatisfied, and Ward murmurs
something inert about grit or momentum.
You see the goaltenders glance at one another,
the only moment in the interview that their eyes meet.
The silent exchange is arresting.
They know each other’s subtlest movements
in their sleep, but they’re not accustomed to being
so close. You wonder what they might have said
to one another, left alone, but up this close
it’s better to keep side-on.
That’s the message from Terry at least.
“So when you saw Keon wide open,” says Plante,
“what you made was a desperate move.”
“That’s it, Jacques,” Sawchuk says, all in one motion
detaching his mike and rising up out of the ill-considered chair,
“that’s all it was.”
-excerpt from Night Work; The Sawchuck Poems (Brick Books, 2008)