Poetry Advent Calendar Day 14

Taken from a collection of poetry from the Windsor Group of Seven Poets, Because We Have All Lived Here, Vanessa Shields’ “I Want to Know What Love is” is a poem about adolescence. Windsorites will also recognize their favourite skating rink.


I Want to Know What Love is
Lanspeary Park Ice Rink circa 1985, Ottawa Street and Langlois


On the Lanspeary park ice
Foreigner blared from watchful speakers
Serenading my impure thoughts for
The teenage ref skating with such gorgeous precision

I wanted to know what love is
Love icy unsmooth
Slippery when wet
Scratched and bladed

My wobbly knees knocking on his country’s frozen land
My tender ankles shaking in desperation
I would show him what love is

Off I whooshed to catch the white snow of his sideways stop
Pushing and gliding my mission with 7-year-old faith
I stunted a fall to get his attention
Arms and legs splayed spinning on my stomach
Bumped dirty wood boards with a thud to match the beat
Of 80s love-song unbridled begging
My plan would impress even the zamboni driver

Blue-knitted mitten to my chin to hold fake pain
Michelle my friend yelled speed-skated to me
Crashed into the boards sliding down
My plan-breaking parallel and out kicked her leg and
Into my lower lip her toe pick pierced

I wanna feel what love is
Hot deep-red bloody sopping my mitten
Burrowing into blade art
No pain
No pain

Until I saw his skates
Torn and filthy punching toward me
Only when he genuflected his
Denim knee a mountain to my blood river

Only then did I cry

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