Friday, August 19, 2011


I sat with an American
On the other side of the world

So, he says grinning
You’re Canadian
Do you live in an igloo?
Of course not
Igloos are temporary shelters
No one ever lived in one
They built them to stay alive
When the arctic storms blotted out the sky
And the wind came to freeze their flesh
But we built and played in them
Often as kids

Well, can you see an aurora from your house?
The house where I was born
But my family moved
Away from the alcohol and joblessness
And quiet desperation of the north
To a place where the ghost of an aurora
Shines dimly
Once every few years
Over city streets where no one looks up

Are you an Eskimo?
Not 100 percent
I have Métis status
Which means I am proud of my Inuit blood
But don’t have enough in my veins
To get money or special treatment
From the government
But just enough to be called ‘skimo’ and ‘skapi’
In high school

Do you club seals?
Never had to
Nor have I wrung a chicken’s neck
Nor shot a pig, cow or goat
But I happily would eat
A good feed of seal
As I would any of those others
And if stranded on an isle
I'd as happily kill a seal for meat
As a pig, dolphin, or even you

Do you play hockey?
Never did, never will
Can barely skate
Can’t ski, love snowboarding
But never go
My generation was raised
To hate and fear winter
Not love and play in it
As these new Canadians
I think they’re right
But just can’t force myself out
Into the snow and cold

He says, none of the other Canadians
Knew or did as much Canadian stuff
As you

I laugh
He doesn’t know that
In Canada I am the exception
Rather than the rule
And feel as estranged in the land of my birth
As here on the other side of the world

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