Canadian Idol.

For my last three November novels, I've always included two things: A character named Gordon, and a line or two from a Tragically Hip song, naturally occurring in the conversation. Yesterday, I found my copy of Coke Machine Glow when I cleaned out the archives. It's actually better than I remembered, but the last poem in the book I had loved right from the first day, and reading it again, it hit me like a bolt of lightning:

Snowy Lambeau

Words keep like canned peaches
if they're good enough.

For instance,
"Snowy Lambeau,"
that'll keep,
and "tomber la neige"
(slowly falling snow),
that too,
and "tigers on the moon,"

Snowy Lambeau
tomber la neige
tigers on the moon

after all these years.

-Gordon Downie

I also love how the event of me rediscovering the poem mirrors the poem itself. Needless to say, I was convinced that the lyrics I lifted for this novel were going to be "snowy lambeau, tomber la neige, tigers on the moon." In fact, I was 90% sure that the novel's title would be Snowy Lambeau.

Then, on the drive to work today, I figured it out. The right lesson to learn from that poem is that words can be beautiful to the point where they transcend their meaning. The wrong lesson is that these particular words are beautiful above all others, for Gord himself wrote them, and as such, they must be treasured. If Gord came down and saw his message of love misinterpreted as one of intolerance, he would surely weep.


Margo said...

You've been put in my bookmarks list. Seriously. I've never, ever met you, but Tillman says good things.

Uhhh hi! I'm Margo, a good friend of Tillman's. I think you're my new favourite blog.

Greg said...

A blog is a perfect forum for you and your random thoughts, comments, and observations....
I looked and it was Denton!

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.