matt robinson


Local Minor Hockey Coach Loses Fingers In Practice Accident
— Newspaper Headline

                              it's a paradox, really. heat, almost—this crystalline
itch; the urge to blanket a naked palm against it—the ice,
its lick. to tempt and toy the nip; make circus-show
with those tiger's teeth of cold. we all know of this, as does our kneeling,
puck-collecting pee-wee coach (let's call him al, or steve, or mr.
gardner).           in one manner or another, we have felt
that sort of whisper chill up and suggest itself.
but right now we're safe at home, the paper strewn across the table, and
it's the headline, and only the headline we thumb across—albeit
a pretty small one—buried in the briefs beside the box
scores. and as we pull back from the page, licking
the inked grey bruise of this knowledge from our tingling hands, all
injured-animal motion; we can almost taste it. fire, at first, comes to
mind. that, and the glowing ends of things: cigarettes
from a distance at night; ballpark red hots too long for their buns.

                              and we see what we imagine might be
his hand—a sudden splayed book of matches—fingers tip-sparked
and scintillating warm; sanguine flames glaring against
the now blooming flint of the ice.             he looks up. (we imagine
he must have looked up, just as we now do—up and
away from the stark text of the incident, his incident.) but
the skate blade (that glint instant) is gone, and the ligature of disbelief—
what he’s now left with—is no match for the still-spilling heat that leaks
from his hand. floodlight-on-steel suddenly, quick
as the stitch of a needle's last dip past zero, he's lost it, our coach. slipped
it, let it slip—from the severed tips of his fingers. and
us? we rub our own hands together here, at the table,
convincing ourselves that something, once written down—whatever it is
we read—is always a kind of fiction; we grab onto—holding
tight—the fluttering, papery-thin weight of our conviction that's so.


From The Official NHL Rulebook:

RULE 24—Puck

a) The puck shall be made of vulcanized rubber, or other approved material, one inch (1'') thick and three inches (3'') in diameter and shall weigh between five and one-half ounces (51⁄2 oz.) and six ounces (6 oz.). All pucks used in competition must be approved by the Rules Committee.

b) The home Team shall be responsible for providing an adequate supply of official pucks which shall be kept in a frozen condition. This supply of pucks shall be kept at the penalty bench under the control of one of the regular Off-Ice Officials or a special attendant.

RULE 66 — Illegal Puck

If at any time while play is in progress, a puck other than the one legally in play shall appear on the playing surface, the play shall not be stopped but shall continue with the legal puck until the play then in progress is completed by change of possession.

Consider pucks and poetry, the congruencies.