Wild Black Raspberries by John Faithful Hamer

I’m not going to lose it the next time
an ideologue who lives in his head
tries to make me or one of my kids feel like we don’t belong here.

Instead I’ll agree with him.

You’re right, I’ll say, I don’t belong
in your outdated 19th-century dreamworld,
founded on the fears and fantasies
of Orangemen and Ultramontanes.

I belong here: in this very real place called Montreal:
one of the most fascinating cities on God’s Green Earth,
a peaceful place that makes no sense to people like you.

I belong here because I love the streets as much as the alleys,
the forests as much as the libraries,
the bars as much as the places of prayer.

I belong here because I love the smooth contours of our topography:
from the top of Mount Royal to the depths of Lac Saint-Louis,
from the Lake of Two Mountains to Pointe-aux-Prairies,
from Rivière des Prairies to the Fleuve Saint-Laurent.

I belong here because I love the smell of gin, incense, and perch;
and I belong here because je me souviens
that the Breath of Life referred to in Genesis
can be found in the boozy air of The Wiggle Room,
the smoky air of l’Oratoire Saint-Joseph,
and the fishy air of Parc des Rapides.

I belong here because I love almost all of the beautiful creatures
on this island paradise: the salamanders on the Mountain
and the frogs in the River, the falcons in the Sky
and the buskers below the Earth.

So I’m not going to lose it the next time
an ideologue who lives in her head
tries to make me or one of my kids feel like we don’t belong here.

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