Where Is Here?

by Annika Cleland-Hura

The vast rolling plains, the mountain chains, the maritime wonderlands
of Canada were not of an infant named in the womb
History breathed upon it slowly, shaping its identity sans rigidity
Permitting time and aberrations not to mar but to mould
As a small child my reverence was song – O Canada the true
North strong and free. My wonder, not lost but strengthened in translation
A little less small, my passion emboldened by knowledge. Age eight
a history class, a study in meaning, the biographical tale of this nation
which I greedily, humbly, call my own, and a question
O Canada, wherefore art thou so called? Monsieur spun, spider-like
a yarn that entwined and held me fast, a once upon a time
Intrepid Jacques, our unlikely hero – for we were eight – alien caught
“Where is here?” – almost philosophical, monsieur, for one invading –
Kanata, cried the youths. Kanata, kanata. We don’t understand.
In my head, the chant, morphed into the sobriquet of myself
This self-imposed identity not defaced by error. I am proud, just as of lessons learned
From skinned knees and stormy seas: our nation has character.
But Monsieur, l’histoire dit autrement, my romanticized notions of history
Come to terms with truth – that cold hard granite hand. Kanata
as it were is Quebec City’s ancestral counterpart, and not misconception
as Shakespearean as my third-grade self dreams of, lives for
Monsieur, the truth is not stone. It is rich and strong and complex
as the gossamer web you bequeathed upon me. Early morning, birds, dew
on the fine silver threads, a portal to peer through and glimpse the soul
Of Canada.