Someone @AltonAlbanyBB recently tweeted a view of Ailsa Craig off the Isle of Arran, from the South Ayrshire coast, and I was reminded of this poem I wrote in response to the theme: A Sense of Place. Not, apparently, what the competition promoters had in mind!
The Sweet Spot No I am not a sportsman, nor ever hope to be one but sometimes, call it luck of the beginner, sometimes I have felt the sweet spot for myself. Wellandport, Ontario My mind grew faster than my limbs so I was just a skinny kid — that’s how I’ve always felt myself to be, but I could catch a baseball, and one day when Leonard Wiley hit it deep to centre field, that’s just what I did. Central Pennsylvania I slogged my lagging body up and down the college soccer field pretending that I knew a thing or two about the beautiful game, but I was an imposter through and through. One practice afternoon, the pass came by and I was in the slot. I raised my foot, met it in air, relayed the ball straight past the keeper right into the net. Philadelphia Crashing through the barrier, into graduate school, into my second wind I felt the rush of exultation on my ten-speed racer, and as the static world swept by, ecstatic racer I, I pumped the air for joy. London I drank my second pint, as a postdoc fellow, before peering at the target such a short distance away. My darts had missed so many times that night but this one centred true. I’d never hit the bullseye heretofore, nor ever, ever more. Allendale, Northumberland Wiping the clay from off the quoit, that evening home from the research lab, I lifted to my chin, took aim, took two steps in a rhythmic sequence as the quoit swept back and through the arc and back again to sweet release, settling on the little pin with just a little squelch in river clay I’d lifted when I built the pitch. Isle of Arran Some day, perhaps, retired holiday, I’ll visit Ailsa Craig, when the finest Blue Hone granite stone is harvested, and then I’ll watch the tradesfolk shape the stone, affix the handle, and assess its smoothest quality. Perhaps I’ll make a contribution of a pair to an adopted curling club, north of the Border, when I’m there. No, I am not a sportsman, but sometimes, sometimes I’ve felt the sweet spot for myself.