The Stan Rogers Blog

Winter Port


I wrote a poem to commemorate both Stan and the fisherment of Port Dover (where his brother Garnet often sings a winter concert that includes songs they sang together). An earlier version of this poem was published in the Hamilton magazine Hammered Out, Winter 2006.

—Lin Geary, Paris, ON

Winter Port

you sit and sip
noting how your glass of red
has finally caught
gives off some longed-for heat
your bottle somewhere close—
a bit of seedy lakeside retro seems all right
and you’re deep in someone’s cushions
their chesterfield of yesteryear
with all this cottage chintz you’ve rentedoutside, it’s Fahrenheit at minus ten . . .
a cold blue carapace
where nameless hardened stars
succeed in crabwise orbit, slide past
your warming glass
your purpose now: forget your loss
begin again
it’s January—you’re here tonight
Port Doverso you hoist yourself a teasing
jib of music, one that hasn’t left your head
it’s from the Town Hall Concert
where you sat an hour ago . . . your ticket
you figure, a fortunate occlusion
in your own hard weatherand the music rushes back—Garnet, tall and balding, a shiny face
his fretful tune a plucking song, his or Stan’s
then a slow Acadian waltz
or Garnet calling Stan
come down this narrow street, and Stan
somehow returning
lofting names from older songs, other sorrowsWhite Squall and Barrett’s Privateers
The Mary Ellen Carter and then
The Jeannie C.
till you imagine fishermen and wives
and boats and tell-tale lights
and you see pale last lights, deadly green
and final flashes that emanate from
turtleback or Erie’s long-haul trawlers
when their last few bubbles vent no noise
and you hear the unheard scores of
drowned men, their voices ragingbut was it water? or more like surface weather?
what was it—that weight
that sent them down? of course, there’s
little for an answer, yet answers rise
from darker green, the green of bottles
racked and shelved in Dover’s bars
no, it won’t be bronze or marble
that acquit the drowned so often or so well
it’s the hands that raise the glass, the shouts
so dark and deeply felt inside a smoky inn
a crowded shore bodegatill somehow now
inside your head
the rowdy music dies
and your mind is shed of fame and gossip
your latticed thoughts, your nets
your dreams and mind’s preoccupations gonequiet now, you let the vines, the grapes
curl wild around your limbs
let trellis tendrils hammock you to sleep—the ones you grieve are rocking you to sleep



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