2012: Wolf Work

it’s 2012

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.

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