In memoriam for my father-in-law, Phil Rouleau


My virgin shot

from the first tee at the Royal Regina


took off straight for the spectators,


hit a tree,


bounced back


with a crack


like a nail gun,


and landed thirty feet behind me.


Here’s the thing about golf: It’s impossible

to exaggerate how badly you’ve done.

So it’s the sport that’s most like life.


It takes a certain kind of mind to play the game.

To love it is something else again.


I wanted to change the world – and get things right.

Phil wanted to love the world as it was – and do his best.


Thirty feet is not a long way – until it’s backwards.

The ball nested in the grass, the egg of shame.

The silence was so full, you could have walked on it –

and Phil must have because I didn’t hear him

until he stood beside me, a new ball in his hand.


Yoda said, Do or do not. There is no try.

Yoda never played golf.

Yoda was wrong.


For proof, I offer Phil’s wisdom that kept me in that game,

and in how many more I cannot say since then:

That happens, he said, Try again.



from On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016), Richard Harrison 2016, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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