His words have a ricochet. He casts them out, they strike and on the rebound, start to make sense. They pick up grit and dirt from skittering on roads. Bits of wood from striking against walls and glancing off trees. Words and strings of words: constellations and courage; Newfoundland dogs, a great black plate of ice. Something called winterfighter in Thompson, Manitoba, breezes turning to rivulets and treasures buried, the Paris of the prairies.
If his words come to you, they may create an image in your mind’s eye, a feeling in your heart about living here, on this land and in the city, with your feet on the street, under trees and streetlamps, beneath satellites that circle around the world and back to you.
He offered poems and songs for our country’s trove of treasures and courage along the way. Sparks from a campfire, leaving behind flames that smoulder and catch on, enter our imagination and make us see things from the outside – bigger, more mysterious.
His words have a ricochet. He throws them as hard as he can into the air and fears they will make no sense. But you are alert and quick, so you catch them, close your hands before they hurtle onward. You feel them bouncing against your palms, see light sparkling through openings in your fingers. The energy of words seeps through your skin, helping you understand the country, the people, your own heart. The words slow down and become softer – like a goose feather that drifts into your hand, or milkweed that flutters around your feet as you wander a field behind your house.
It was urgent for him to get the words out, to use them all up, so he sent them hurtling. But really, he only needed open his hands and blow softly to release his butterfly of wings and meanings. We were always there, holding out our hands, waiting for them to brush our palms.
Now his work is over. He left a job for the reconcilers: to be gentle and quiet so that as a dragonfly, an idea might alight and emerge. A thought about being more tender with one another. So that when words and songs take flight through the atmosphere, making no sense, they will encounter listeners, who hear and understand, and are made gentle by them.