Learning of the Death of Al Purdy
Together we spent ten hectic days in London and Cardiff.
It was my first trip abroad but his umpteenth trip across the Atlantic.
Yet the notion of visiting London's galleries and museums
Had never occurred to him, so we jointly visited Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum;
He visited the pubs and napped a lot; I went to see all the rest.
All the books of V.S. Pritchett that he could buy he bought,
And in one pub he introduced me to three of his new Cockney friends.
He introduced me, as well, to a lot of other and different things,
Not ones that I would normally have found at all interesting.
But he shared his interests and concerns, abruptly, garrulously.
Anything ancient he found eloquent, worthy of one poem or two poems:
“Isn't there a word for the word 'Catholic' that is spelled with a K?”
“What d'ya suppose they built London Bridge for in the first place?”
“In London, there's got to be a pub at every street-corner!”
One of the experiences that he related to me will never be forgotten:
“I was workin' on this old house that my father'd built,
Trying to unscrew one of his god-damn door hinges.
Try as I might, I couldn't loosen that stubborn screw.
I thought, 'Now I'm pittin' my strength against my old man's
And I'm losin', and that's the way it's gotta be, I guess.”
I too guess: It was a duel and the only one of his that ended in a draw.
by John Robert Colombo
from Canadian Poetry Online