I am proud to mount “Jack Pine,” with music by my son Gabe Flaherty, the location sound man, and dear friend Mark Korven the film maker and Meiko Ando, the dancer. Filmed in Killbear Park as part of the King Foundation Georgian Bay Project. There is a white pine at Harold Point that looks just like Tom Thomson’s painting at sunset.
The poems “Canoe,” “Rose Quartz” and “Jack Pine” are all in my upcoming book, “Titch,” and were winners of the 2018 King Foundation Georgian Bay Project.
for Tom Thomson
I skitter over hot rocks,
heat in my soles,
curl my city-soft toes to grip
like the thirsty trees that cling to
soil-less striations of history.
Each step smacks rock, veined with quartz,
reminds me of my dances here as a child,
the way I felt myself, like a wind-reaching
jack pine, dancing as she would
if her roots could let go
their talon-grip. Me, that same lonely
jack pine, silhouetted against sunset rose, uprooted
and able to skip across stone.
As a child I saw Tom Thomson’s tree
fierce against a sailor-warning sky,
her bent spine leaning into cloud-lines.
It made me smile, to see this solitary
figure’s shallow-but-striving roots,
made me wonder what she would do if unearthed.
So I set that Jack of all pine’s spirit free,
imagine her able to spin,
sprinkling cone-buds on the shoreline,
a few in my hair, lifting her limbs to the wind,
she’d not tumble away in a Georgian Bay storm, but dance
like the gulls spreading webbed feet on the searing sand,
like the minnows shimmering silver in shoals,
like me, bobbing as if my anchor just got reeled in.