Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Lost

Captain Norman McKay, Master
J. McReynolds, Wheelman
M. McIvor, Chief Engineer
Chester Dunham, Fireman
R. Earls, Cook
James Minard, Fireman
Miss Iona Johnson, Stewardess

The Rescued

James Agnew, 1st Mate
Howard Allan, 2nd Mate
Orville Parr, Purser
Daniel Rouse, Deckhand
Duncan Smart, Deckhand
R. Record, Deckhand
D. MacIntosh, Deckhand
Ross Galbraith, Deckhand
E. Carr, Second Engineer
Ernest Rouse, Deckhand

As cars keep pace along shore

A refitted boat not much bigger than a tub

delivering supplies to Manitoulin Island
in November just before the ice

just before the end of the season

sank near Squaw Point. Driving to Leith

near Tom Thomson's grave (another local boy
who met his match in the water)

my mother points to the spot
the Hibou sank

she repeats stories told to her

and I see Captain McKay on the deck
of the Hibou dip beneath the surface.

This story starts with rumours

The cargo, a load of cattle
shifted position

and the steamer lost balance.

A woman panicked by rushing water
and the rising horizon

locked herself in the washroom.

It sank near enough to shore
they could have been saved

swam to land like the rest.

They found her coat, dragged it
to the surface

thinking it was Iona.

Her body was found, caught on
the grappling hook

but lost by an unsteady hand.

Through the open door

The sparks & glow of Kennedy's foundry
a constant of steel & fire
a roster of men
passing through & picking up
work when able
& those who never left home
risked the worry of distance

nestled close to shore
where land & water meet
propellers stamped 'Wm. Kennedy & Sons'
loaded on to railway cars
because trains travel
where water can't take you

past city limits
south to Toronto
Michigan or New York
north across the sheld
& either coast

new boats for the proplellers
new cargo for the boats
then back through the canals
& seaways to Owen Sound Harbour
where land & water meet.

The deckhand has an Isaac Newton moment

MacIntosh watched his toothbrush
fall from the ledge
and knew this was more than gravity
up to its usual tricks.

Did his voice float?

Travel the short distance to shore
crest the waves, press
against the night sky

Carry us from this sorrow, measure
the weight of kindness
comfort offered, moments shared.
Don't leave us to these depths.

Words disappear into water. Words
disappear into water. Words disappear
into water. Words.
Into water, he slips.

The last anyone saw of Iona

She ran back below
looking for a coat,
something to cover her nightdress.

Dangling from the rail,
asking what she should do
as rafts bobbed over water.