Elizabeth Mikesch

Listen to: Mucker


I can say a few phrases in hockey. I know it sideways, maybe half-asleep. Hockey: its slang, scenes, stands, adages, road trips in buses full of alarms—"Cover your eyes!", undressing young men (I peeked) and of not knowing what to say or scream besides the name of the team. I can tell you what I picked up in tangent. The fight songs, the prayerful almost-memorized nonsense are ritualized. I am at a loss, mouthing. It's more about noise. But, I still love the sound of a skate scraping the ice: the drawl. I love the slush of zambonis and their jizzy swipes, that glide. I see my grandmother covering up her face to her nose in her collar from the suspense of a power play nerved out if I close my eyes.

My father's sport is foreign for me. I lived as a girl for some years a few feet from an outdoor rink. This place, called the Lauren Grove, is mythic, homey, and alien. My grandpa tells me the kids used to have to tend it themselves if they wanted to play a game outside on the ice—the real kind made from weather and winter. Imagine.

For "Mucker," I started recording my dad one afternoon on the sly when he was organizing an old timers' league. First, I listened to him get a game together and asked him questions in between. I let this file stew then tried to reason with it in my terms while finding the meat, the meaning of his in hearing them again and again. I turned this version into a short piece first said in Unsaid. You will hear the third period: the conversation.

Here I am trying to conjugate my father.