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Sharon Thesen: Westwords

APRIL 1958

For weeks we'd been waiting for the day
we could watch Ripple Rock blow up on TV

It sat on stick legs in the living room
& every week I watched my favorites
I Love Lucy and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

I loved Lucy too, more than Ricky did; from her
I would never demand an explanation, I would never
burst in the door wagging my finger ­

She always had good intentions but things
would get out of control; her battle
was with the intransigence of the material world

& so was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's

On the screen were the ordinary waters of Seymour Narrows,
a voice narrating the history of Ripple Rock
­ a twin-peaked underwater mountain ­
and bemoaning the ships, boats & Sunday
pleasure craft it had wrecked. Enough was enough, "Old Rip" had to go.
Dynamite was corded into shafts both vertical
and horizontal from nearby apologetic Maud Island.

You couldn't see Ripple Rock, that was the problem. But
like Communism treacherous
currents and tides revealed too late where it lay
only nine feet below surface at low tide. Ripple Rock in the
church hall, Ripple Rock in the highball, Ripple Rock
in the square-dance call.

We gazed upon the face of the deep.

A swirl of current flowed around the sleeping
innocent peaks of the underwater mountain. Innocent as Lucy
dead to the world in her big pyjamas, hair in curlers,
cold cream on her face

a tiny moment of nothing ­ a cracking roar ­
an endless excessive fireworks spewing of rock, dust, smoke ­

and then the bits & pieces of Ripple Rock
began soundlessly to fall back down into the Narrows
& sadness befell us for the undersea
mountaintop destroyed for our own good.


The big transport trucks had to be lashed
to hooks in the walls of the hull down below

our cars crammed in down there together also
all facing the same direction
like soldiers quietly inside the Trojan Horse

for passage across Hecate Strait one hundred
miles over shallow nasty seas to Skidegate

seven hours, what is an hour to a gull or
a killer whale but to us there were seven
as horizons disappeared and reappeared

& despite daylight the rooms of the vessel
were dim & some of the passengers dozed in staterooms
& others in the corridors

the boat felt old, in the hands of lunatics or ghost
mariners from an unknown narrative, it would be a wonder

if we ever arrived or returned from this return trip

so I wasn't surprised she veered off course
toward her destiny at midnight with an isle called Gil
that breached that very hull that held the quiet autos below
in a trance between her bones that tilt and settle deeper still.

Sharon Thesen is a poet, editor, and writer who was based in Vancouver, BC, before coming to UBC Okanagan in 2005. She is the author of seven books of poetry, soon to be eight with the publication of her latest book, The Good Bacteria, in 2006. Sharon has been involved in the Canadian and Vancouver poetry scene for many years. As an editor, she has published two editions of The New Long Poem Anthology, a Governor-General's Award-winning edition of Phyllis Webb's poetry, and, from 2001 to 2005, the literary and visual arts magazine The Capilano Review. She co-edited, with Ralph Maud, a volume of correspondence between the poet Charles Olson and the book designer Frances Boldereff entitled Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff: A Modern Correspondence. She is also interested in the aesthetics of theological and mystical writings by women, as well as psychoanalysis and ecology. She is married, with one son and one stepson. She lives in Lake Country.

Wild Blue Yonder at Thursday Express