Jacques LaPlante Was a Decade Too Late by Josh Cook
His stomach felt like a swamp
before every game;
stagnant, scummy, stinking, cessy water;
boggy plants and big snakes.
It felt real bad
but it had life.
Tonight the swamp was dead.
It was there
in his stomach,
but it was dead.
People herded their cars in the parking lot
then herded themselves in the hockey arena.
They gathered concessions,
kept track of the kids,
exchanged the language
built up in their brains
over the week.
The important thing about this:
this is important.
He was covered by bruises.
He was always covered with bruises.
If he wasn’t
they wouldn’t play him.
Most of the time he was covered with bruises
the same way he was covered by clothes.
Tonight, his bruises felt like damage.
Damage in his organs.
He always lead the team out of the locker room.
This said something about his importance.
A place of value, of course,
and respect, but;
also another lonely responsibility.
It was time to lead the team out of the locker room.
The ice was suddenly ten miles away.
Recent studies have shown that sitting still for extended periods of time—
as required in most modern work places—
takes almost as many years off your life as smoking cigarettes.
The body evolved with a great deal of flexibility, but there is still a limit.
It is strange how easy it is to discover what we did not evolve to endure.
Stranger how easy it is to endure those discoveries.
25 saves in a 5-3 win is something to be proud of.
He didn’t feel proud.
He didn’t feel anything.
No. He found a feeling
entombed in the tomb of his bruise.
He felt wrong.
Sitting on the bench in the locker room
all his teammates doing.
Then he was on the floor.
Of all the places he’d been
he’d never been on a locker room floor.
Something new was happening.
And it had nothing to do with pain.
Josh Cook‘s poetry has appeared in Epicenter Magazine, Lyrical Somerville, in Plume Poetry Anthology 2012, and elsewhere. Other work has appeared in The Coe Review, The Owen Wister Review, Barge, and other print and online journals. He was also a finalist for the 2011 and 2012 Cupboard Fiction Prize. His reviews and criticism have appeared in Bookslut, The Millions, and The Rumpus. Josh is a blogger, bookseller, and magazine buyer for Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA, and writes the books and culture blog, In Order of Importance.