national arts council meets here
to know the land they serve
i am invited to a reception
no poem commission, just to be
face of our mayor’s personal commitment
laureate memo: always carry
poems are easy to conceal
mind you, the law of theatre
applies here; if you see a poet
it will be used in the show.
but the real action happens
when i’m standing in the corner
with sokaymoh, talking.
she chairs our city art council
i am our laureate. my dad and
her mom worked together
back when the work was human
rights for metis people; homes
for road allowance people
school, jobs, and a place
in our country’s constitution.
before that, her grandparents
carried the work in this city
in even darker days.
if we have arrived, it is
for them, and through them
and standing on their shoulders.
now, the council members speak
standing in a circle, in front of us all
they offer their thanks, and one is asked
to offer impressions of our fair city.
she speaks, and our polite ears
go all wolf, as she trots out that lame
notion of humanity’s youth here.
but we never spring.
our urbane white canadian
executive director strikes swift
mercy-killing her ignorance.
as for us, it is a fresh young feeling
uncoiling, smiling, recognising ourselves
as part of a diverse and growing pack
in this moment, at least, the law of
wicihitowin proving the worth of
our ancestors’ long commitment.
we silently toast their love and their work
as he honours them, and many unfêted others
with gentle words about how we all know
humans have met here, at this pehonan
eight thousand years or more, and
on these shoulders, a whole city
has come to stand.