The American author Charles McCarry, in his novel Second Sight, has a character (a thinly disguised version of Allen Dulles, Dwight Eisenhower’s Director of Central Intelligence) express the view that “mankind in all its thousands of years on earth has only invented two perfect systems, the English sonnet and the game of baseball.”
Each, the character explained, “is governed by absolute rules which cannot be bent without destroying the form and therefore the result, and yet everything known to the human heart and mind, everything, can happen within them. Rules and imagination — that’s the winning combination.”
I believe this is true, or very close to it. Even my beloved Uechi-ryu karate falls just a little short of this standard of perfection, alas. So let us start this blog with 14 lines of poetry of my own composition, a single thought imperfectly expressed within a perfect form. From there, in just a little time, we can move to more cheerful topics: St. Albert politics, taxes, and journalism.
Death and taxes — a winning combination!
Instructions for the Disposal of My Earthly Remains
When I shuck off this mortal coil, dear friends,
I ask this favour of you; no debate
Please. Just burn up my remnants at the end
And dump the ashes in the Haro Strait.
Drive to Cordova Bay, look to the right
To where San Juan’s brown island you can see
Look east, toward Baker’s mount, a blinking light,
Should mark the spot, to toss them out to sea.
This final favour is not much to ask.
The drive is easy with a rental car.
But if some rule or law should ban this task
I will not urge you to go very far:
Still, from your duty don’t recoil in fright,
But simply shake the package out at night.