O Canada

By Thomas P. Lynch b. 1948
Some nights he’d watch hockey and so she’d rock   
with a novel or her Valéry and go to France   
where she and several guests of the gay prince   
picnic and play at croquet on the château grounds.   
Lace and ribbons are all the fashion rage   
and ladies in chiffon and high coiffures
fan their bright bosoms like birds of song.
And there are men with names like pink flowers   
or instruments of sound in silk stockings
and plump satin breeches to knee length who seem fond   
of dabbing their rouged lips with handkerchiefs   
they keep in their coat sleeves for such occasions   
while all around their wigs hum yellow honeybees,   
drawn to their powders and colognes and toiletries.   
And she is out among them. And her hand is kissed   
by gentlemen of rank and her opinion sought   
on Couperin and Molière and Poussin—
all high etiquette and courtly talk.
Out in the garden, she hears the gardener sing,   
between hedgerows of juniper and yew,
O Canada, our home and native land. He moves   
by evening light through his green diocese,   
smelling of dung and mulch and growing things,   
heartsick for that hard country of his youth.   
Some nights he’d take her to his room upstairs   
and speak in that far dialect she loved
of ice and earth and qualities of air—
his True North, strong and free, O Canada;   
and then he’d make hardbody love to her.
Next morning she’d make omelettes and he’d thumb   
the newspaper for word of Guy Lafleur
or Marcel Dionne. And she’d be pleased because   
that was the style of the country he’d come from.

Thomas Lynch, “O Canada” from Skating With Heather Grace. Copyright © 1986 by Thomas Lynch. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Skating with Heather Grace (1986)

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Poet Thomas P. Lynch b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Living

 Thomas P. Lynch


Essayist, poet, and funeral director Thomas Lynch has written four critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, three award-winning volumes of essays, and a book of short fiction. By using his own daily routine as poetic fodder, Lynch has transformed the mundane task of preparing the dead into a life-affirming event. His lyrical, elegaic poems describe the dead citizens of Milford, Michigan, his own family relationships, and scenes . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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