The rec room
red indoor/carpet with black flecks
The old green couch, nubbly,
pine tongue-in-groove panelling
the RCA colour TV.
ABC's The Wide World of Sports
broadcasting from Buffalo,
the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,
popcorn in a bowl, the family gathered around
to watch a sporting event.
in the house in the Toronto suburbs.
Nobody watched sports at our house.
No Hockey Night in Canada.
No Stanley Cup, no Grey Cup,
no Bowling for Dollars.
The Kentucky Derby, though,
brought us together like it was Christmas.
It was 28 years before another horse won the race in less than two minutes.
When it was over, the red horse was still accelerating.
The Preakness Stakes,
he started last (he always started last).
Mud on the Canadian jockey's face, a fact of life
in the fast lane.
Ron Turcotte, our hero, a star as big as Bobby Orr,
a fearless giant in a cloak of small.
From last to first in a heartbeat, a huge beating heart,
with no challengers at the blazing finish.
June 9, 1973
The Belmont Stakes
Our breath catches in our throats,
our hearts race. We watch, we can't watch,
we chant his name, we wait,
we wait only 2:24 minutes.
He starts in the lead, he wants it, he keeps it.
Red flanks tear by, too fast to see,
Turcotte crouches down, fingers twisted in mane,
hanging on for his life as the cheering world screams by.
The lead widens, stretches, lesser horses, lesser men, fall behind
in dust from the great horse's winged hooves.
In the rec room,
the popcorn bowl tumbles over as we jump to our feet
and scream his name:
Secretariat! Secretariat! Secretariat!
February 9, 2011
The Disney movie tells the tale
many people never knew.
There are tears, sure.
Tears spilled in the memory of a red horse
a legend, a hero
and the memory of cheering him on
As a family.
In our rec room,
in his finest hour.