April 02, 1936 – October 02, 2017
This is a poem for George
Of his life in form and time
Like rivers that tell stories to the sea
George Martin was a story teller
On The Salish Sea.
From Canoe Cove to Echo Bay
From ‘Coast to Coast Radio’,
from ‘Great Northern Boaters Net’ and
From Island to island
From wooden boat to wooden boat
From Queen Charlotte Strait to Cape Caution
Resting in gentle bay by tidal sway.
Water was in his blood
Water under his keel
Water in his sailors’ eye.
He could kiss water
The root of civilization,
Water, word for freedom
Water was his freedom
His love and his kiss
Of George’s life in form and time
His partner was Louise.
His vessel was Surf Scoter
Which according to legend
Perspired linseed oil while cruising.
He was like free water itself
He body-surfed on water
He loved idle water in a well.
But preferred the smell of sea and swell.
Even water in the solitude of cup
Even water in the sap of tree
He was water not for sale.
He was water not for fracking.
He was water for sailing and tacking,
Water for Buffer his golden retriever
Water in a tea cup with Louise,
Water in the mind of trees
He was water that chose its vessel,
Water not constrained by river banks.
He loved free water everywhere,
But not in fish farms that breed disease
Not able to constrain himself
George preferred water to behave
Especially when docking or at anchor.
He was extroverted, and predictably
Unpredictable like water.
If he were a river he’d be lusting for the sea
He was the water of the sea
Where the water stories are told.
He could have filled volumes
For a library. But in the old tradition
He was a jovial oral voice, a friendly
The older he got in form and time
He became seduced by trees
He became the sap of an apple orchard
When he played golf at Ardmore.
He marvelled at ancient Douglas firs,
Over a thousand years of strength.
He was strong and athletic
Until his blood was assaulted by
A tar sands bulk carrier, the freighter
‘The Leukemia’ that poisoned his sea,
Ran aground, broke up, spilled oil.
The water in his veins got tarred
By the pollution of foreign debris.
His skin paled to canvas from anemia
On arms that once pulsed with arteries
That swelled like working rivers
As he climbed the mast in gales.
He played golf like a gaffer
Always checking the directions
Of the wind, sensing the windy
Ripples in water and grass
Feeling the roll of deck and green.
As George’s physical form faded,
The arms and legs of my nine month
Grandson swelled with muscles.
My grandson’s lungs expanded with
Practice for songs yet to come, and
George expressed joy in my joy
But the slider switches on his mixers
Dampened the intensity of his enthusiasm.
His shallow voice spoke what we both knew
What neither wanted to admit.
But in my heart I could hear his
Full voiced laughter
Endless in the coffee shops
Of coastal B.C..
Water is life
As a mountain creek grows stronger
As a stream becomes a river
As liquid life surges on to freedom
Cutting through canyons
Carrying alluvial soil to deltas
and tells new stories to the sea,
So is my grandson.
So was George
In his prime
Water is life
As a flooding desert arroyo
Dwindles to a trickle,
As its flow crystallizes to salt,
As arteries cut the skin of banks
As water evaporates,
Even a great lake disappears.
So was my friend.
So was George.
All terrestrial life has form
Size and dimension.
But is the soul of George beyond form?
Beyond all time and dimension?
Does the soul look outward with a new yearning
For liberation like a new type of water
No longer confined by islands
Or continents, a new formless form
With a new breeze and a new currrent
Ready to tell formless stories to a formless sea.
Or is George the talking water of the riptide, telling stories.
What stories will The Water Whisperer whisper?
Will he be the water in the tears we cry?
Or on my forehead, rain drops from the sky?
Or a peaceful wave that calms the Salish Sea?
Or a warm glow, in my cup, of Orange Pekoe tea?
Of Life and death!
For us it is that Ancient Question
From yesterday morning.