It was – 18 in Central Ontario
When you pulled out a sand dollar from behind my ear
And kissed me with lips that burned with the salt of Halifax harbours.
I asked myself if I was ready for this love
Born too soon from being alone too long
But my synapses were as frozen as Rankin Inlet
Leaving my mind as barren as tundra.
It reminded me of how awkward my tongue felt
When I tried to speak French in Montreal
As if a language taught in high school sixteen years ago
Could prepare me for accent aigu and accent grave
Before the diacritical mark of coffee appeared before me in the morning.
I let you take me home with you
Like a dropped mitten retrieved from a puddle crusted over with ice
Is shoved once more into a parka’s pocket.
I stepped into the tracks a stranger’s boots left in the snow
Because I was afraid of falling in too deep with you
And of being consumed by something deceptively beautiful.
We laid on your Saskatchewan – flat bed
As stars broke through sky like holes punched into black construction paper
The moon shining Alberta rye golden.
I shivered when your fingers traced love notes across my skin
My nipples as tall and hard as the Rocky Mountains
While I watched my breath make clouds over your shoulder.
You portaged my trembling thighs speaking dialects of gas stations and dinosaur bones
Singing stories of cowboy boots striking plywood boards in rhythm with guitars in country bars
Whispering nickel mines and tobacco farms
Until my eyes turned into the Bay of Fundy,
Tears spilling high tide on the beach of my cheeks
Only to dry and then return.
We rattled together like china cups in a cupboard during an earthquake in British Columbia
Some tremors merely disturbing the dust on our rims
Others causing an avalanche off shelves and counter tops.
I was the haunted cry of a solitary loon.
You were the clicking of a humpback whale’s echolocations.
We were both trying desperately to find someone to make sense of our hearts’ geography
Cardiac countryside that varied from Pacific to Atlantic Ocean
Filled with the bones of diverse peoples who had inhabited those lands
Long before we colonized each other.
Sometimes, on winter nights when I sleep with socks on
With you wrapped around me like train tracks
I slide my hand under my pillow to touch that sand dollar
And I remember that no matter where we go
We are always home.
I am always home.
This work, “Oh, Canada” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.