The need to write this poem had been percolating for quite some time. I had traveled this wonderful country and seen such beauty, I needed to describe what I had seen in a poem, but was afraid that it would sound just like many others that had already been written.
My parents had arrived here through Pier Twenty-one in Halifax from England and after taking the train past Montreal to Union Station in Toronto, had walked up Yonge Street, torn up for the new subway, with two young children in tow (my older brother and I) two suitcases and 40 pounds in their pocket.
They had met during the war as my father had escaped from his native Poland on his motorcycle just before the second world war began. He made his way, to Canada through Turkey and France to fight in the liberation of Paris and then luckily to England where he joined the RAF and eventually met my artistic English-Scottish mother. They wanted to start life anew and decided on Canada as my mother’s favourite aunt loved Toronto. Another Scottish aunt lent my parents 230 pounds for a down payment on a home and they were off and running.
Although my mother thought Canada was freezing and never really felt warm during the winter, my father soon adapted and patriotically embraced this country. He eventually became one of the engineers who worked on the Avro Arrow.
One day in 2005, I was standing in a bank line-up looking at the many people of different cultures waiting patiently in line. I suddenly thought of all those who had arrived in Canada from war-torn countries, leaving their homes far behind, some apprehensive or traumatized, looking for a life of freedom and peace. I hurried home to write down my poem.
You came into this Land of freedom,
with chains around your mind and soul.
With unbound hands and heavy heart,
which way to turn, which way to go?
I can show you places, where thoughts
can tumble out like thistle-down upon
the wind, to take root and grow.
Here – in this ancient Land of Inuit and native
son, where voyageurs once rode wild rivers
above the granite shield, and where battles
were fought and won, so long ago…
This Land of healing grace, of
star-filled nights and scarlet sunsets
‘cross a mountain view. Of northern
lights, musk ox and polar bear,
of prairie farmers, wheat and caribou.
Land of the fishermen and red-rimmed soil,
of cities with their towering spires where
workers toil. She will embrace you too!
This Land of quiet strength will break away
those chains. Your children’s children
will one day say, my forbears came,
then found what they were searching for,
in this Land of freedom, Canada.
Please read my article, A Suitcase for My Polish Family on the Blog Tell-Tale here: A Suitcase for My Polish Family – Anubha Mehta
Points to Ponder:
For those readers who live in Canada, what does this country mean to you? For those readers who don’t live in Canada, what is your impression of this country?