Sausage makers, salt farmers, whose wives and daughters
smoked menthols. Their bake sales baffling displays
of unexplainable choices. They'd built themselves
an indoor pool by 1979. We had none. Our curriculum
embraced partnership for the sake of our physical
education, so each swimming lesson was a lesson in defeat.
Our cries rang off the Quonset hut’s corrugated steel.
As our school failed, theirs thrived, its sprung wood gym floor,
ceiling domed and beamed, classrooms around a mezzanine,
they wielded it like an unassailable proof, assaulted us
with it. All in that ridiculous accent, the inexplicable
outfits. Now our school is gone. Where once we fought them
in the parking lots, the arenas, left our blood and teeth
in the arenas, on the street in front of the bar, after band concerts
and ball tournaments and grad, and sometimes during,
now must we compel our children to be bused there,
to disembark the Bluebird like prisoners on work detail.
Will our heirs go on to name their own after the wrong
soap opera characters and country music stars? Thirteen miles
down the road, and you’d think it another planet, a hostile
one, or overly friendly, in any case backward and impossible
to understand. No doubt, they’d say the same about us.
Which only serves to confirm what I’ve been telling you.
From The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014 (ed. Sonnet L'Abbe) by Karen Solie