Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, it’s called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but never
We heard they were not American.
Not British and not quite French.
They were not born in Hong Kong
did not immigrate from Russia with one pair of shoes.
They were not all russet-haired orphans
who greeted the apple blossom dawn with open arms,
crying Avonlea! They were not immodest,
did not want God to save the Queen.
Their leaders were not corrupt, no;
they were not all Mounties on proud horseback
with hot tasers. Nor did they shit hockey pucks.
Fuck me was not considered impolite in their living rooms.
It was not just the weather that made them curse.
Not just frozen lakes cracked under the weight of the moon.
There was no great Canadian hush of things not to be talked about.
They did not ride sled dogs to the prom,
nor fight off polar bears for a chunk of Narwhal blubber.
Cod-stacking was not their Olympic sport.
Wedding guests did not dine on icicle, nor did the bride
wear a toque over a white veil. Not all of them
ignored genocide. Not all of them sang a “cold
and broken Hallelujah” as the bells broke crystal ice
across Parc Lafontaine. They were not rich and also
not poor. Not overachievers. Neither believers nor unbelievers.
C’etait pas tout l’histoire, and they would not
be caught clubbing seals on TV, red bloom
on white coat, melting eyes, they did not mine asbestos
in Quebec, make love in skidoos,
sleep in snowshoes. Never danced hatless
under dancing Northern lights. They were polite.
By Rachel Rose