Dear Canada

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An Open Letter of Gratitude to Canada

Dear Canada:

It all begun when I was asked by my cousin to travel with her to Ottawa. I had one week to prepare. Thank God that in 1992, you allowed the Islands of the British CommonWealth to come to your shores with only an approved passport. We didn’t have to travel to Barbados to obtain a visa for visiting relatives and friends who had already settled in your land. Irony is, now that I am Canadian; many have no clue where St.Lucia is on the map. Today you’ve granted me the privilege to apply dual history and culture.

I was fortunate to have landed on one of your most prestigious airports, Pearson International in Toronto.  After our passports were stamped with all kinds of important information, we made our way to the vast space to wait endlessly to be taken to Ottawa. As we waited for what seemed like forever; for the strangers whom we’ve never met before to pick us up from your capital, I couldn’t help but observe that you had all kinds of strange people in your land: people whom I have never recognized or seen before in my homeland of St.Lucia. My eyes opened so wide that I had no time to take a nap or to sit still after our 5 hours plane ride. The energy of so many nations moving in all directions simply mesmerized me.

At 26 years old you were my first virgin flight, I arrived on your  land  in the cold month of April. It seem ordained that I had to come to you for the other two and half decades of my life. The Creator had a greater plan for my life and for you O Canada; for you have taught me things that no other nation on earth could have taught me. You transformed me into a strong, mature, and confident Afro-Caribbean-Canadian woman. You chose to adopt me, engrafting me into your culture, your people, and your landscape.

It was not easy at the beginning but you made it possible for me to see my way through the many languages,accents, dialects, which my ears had to get adjusted too. You’ve allowed me to walk through your educational institutions without discrimination, and if it existed while I was there, I didn’t dwell there, for I knew that my new motherland was greater than the ideology of an oaf; her approach is that of dignity and the value placed on human lives.

Because of you I have made friends or met others along my way from various countries on earth. You showed me how to be kind by the way you show kindness to all who come to you  for refuge.  You are a harbour where the hurting and the dying come for refuge; and you give hope to  they that have dreams and want to soar.

In this great year 2017, as you celebrate 150 years of standing for peace, love and quality (equality); I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for creating policies with me in mind. For giving me the privilege to have access to social services, health care, and continuous education. I want to say thank you for providing for my two daughters whose navel cords are buried in your soil. Thank you for opening new doors for me. Thank you for being one of the best countries in the world.

Stay safe Canada, you are loved!

Sincerely yours,

New Citizen

jjf ©  2017

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Warm Glow of Lights- A Walk in Winter

What was I thinking coming to live in this four seasons country which I have grown to love over the course of time. Canada has been my home for almost 24 years. I left a tropical island with only two seasons-sunny and rainy- for greater opportunities in icy freezing winter. (Not even Canadians born here have gotten use to the cold). We all have to tolerate its chilling tentacles with shape spikes!

I do not like shoveling snow. I do not like waiting for public transit when it is snowing or it has snowed. I hate walking in unplowed streets where the snow is almost my height -about 5 feet; and to make it worst, the city have a way of blocking you in with snow,  especially if you live on a side street leading into a main street. And do not talk about the wind; sometimes I do not know which is worst-the snow drifting in the blustering wind; or, that sneaky cold breeze that stings when you least expect it.

I do not like the wind trying to find a way to sneak under my many layers of clothing, making me feel under-dressed.  My friend told me years ago when I first came to Canada, that you cannot get rid of the cold no matter how much you’re padded up or bundled up; also, there is no fashion when it comes to winter. She said that it is okay to have two hats on your head, four extra layers of clothing on, and it’s better to stay warm than to be fashionable. Well, I will argue the latter with her, there is some fashion in winter.

On a positive note, I refuse the cold to keep me indoors. Too much ‘indoors’ will send me insane.  O yes, I have itchy feet, I must walk; just have to go outside. The cold cannot keep me in, even on days when all I see is the vapor coming out of the mouths or nostrils of people; or, I get that nod from the neighbors with eyes peering through ninja style hats or scarves- I feel you too. Me, I’m covered up too, the only parts of me that I might leave exposed for a quick  snapping of photos, are my right hand fingers. Seriously. I just realized that I do not text or make any calls while trying to stay warm on a blustery biting cold day or night.

Warm Glow of Lights is a  poem or thought on lines according to Catherine Cookson, that I wrote to a beat in my head; I sang and chanted it while walking to get my daughter from the babysitter. The evening was just perfect, cold and crisp– warm lights were striking across the sky; some having the appearance of angels. I raised my voice to my contentment  as my deepest thoughts and prayers were with all the poor souls who were making their way out of the bitter cold.

Today my sentiment remains the same. The cold weather forces me to think of the homeless and the underprivileged in my community. While I might not like winter, I will be dressing very warm to extend my help for a worthy cause.

#outofthecold #homelessness #metoo

 

Warm Glow of Lights

By jjf edited 2017

Glow night snow

glow lights over the hearts

warming in shelters

beaming over all who are

fortunate to be

tucked away from the tentacles

of winter: snow sprawls all over,

nipping at everything; as clouds linger in an

overcast of freezing

windchills that you wish not even your enemies

 be in this shivering bitter cold.

My prayer is that no person be found outside,

with hardly any vital signs; or no fire to cover the coldest

curdled hard to fight against winter’s elements

where the outside lights will not keep you warm

tears are useless in the cold, it freezes up

so on this biting, frosty night

it will be warmer with others; to share a fireplace, a kitchen, a bed

I beseech you find cover that will shield you

against the coldest needles which can pierce

even the warmest of spirits…

(c) 2015 jjf

Special Mark

Beyond the horizon
Beyond the horizon

Proem

As a child I have always had a fascination with nature- I would look to the horizon for the rising of the sun, then follow it till the sun sets. I watched the moon come out in pieces and full, and collected the stars in my imagination to form my own constellation. The rainy season was the best time to look at patterns being formed by clouds. We only have two seasons on the Island of St. Lucia; wet or dry.  Here’s what I found in an old exercise book – a few poems related to my experiences with the earth.

O Rain Fall was an ode poem that I wrote begging in a prayerful manner for the rain to fall.

One day in a particular year- I can’t remember the exact year, but it was most probably when my two sisters and I were about 10-14 years old respectively.

The government declared that there was a possibility of a drought and that everyone had to conserve water. For days no rain fell, the stand pipes for government free water dripped for long agonizing minutes, and carrying water as a young girl was not my forte; climbing up and down hills to haul buckets of water on our heads or to carry two buckets in each hand was a sure killer, and most times my sisters and I  had to carry enough water to fill up a medium or large size metal drum or barrel.

The many trips were grievous, and so to make it lighter, we would pause to pick mangoes, steal guavas from the neighbor’s yard, or try to open dry coconuts which had just fallen.

Special Mark is a bitter-sweet relationship with an aspect of nature- a poem which I wrote a couple of years after my sister got a gash in her flesh which left her with the most unique natural tattoo on her upper-backside.  The mud was our playground, especially after the fresh rain. We took countless showers when the rain was at its heaviest: we played in it, we danced in it, and we made mud toys from it. Our mud was clean and beautiful brownish or reddish clay-so it was no surprise that children growing up in my era, especially in my yard- took the pleasure to embrace the mud during and after the rain. In a few days after the rain stops, and the cloud cleared off completely by the blazing sun, the mud would turn creamy and then really hard causing different kinds of creativity.  One day while we were teenagers, my third sister and I decided to take part in mud slides. First, you had to get a strong branch that would carry your weight down the hill, or if you were fortunate like other kids you got a piece of shinny and smooth old vinyl carpet that someone threw out to skate on. During one of our mud skating expeditions, my sister sledded off what she was skating on and landed on a sharp rock or root that cut her deeply on her backside, tattooing her for life. (Wish I can show a photo here.)

Before the Rain Came was my perception of how I saw and felt the rain coming.

I loved looking out to the horizon. Fortunately, the house my mother rented was on a hill which overlooked the harbor, and we saw on a daily basis when the fishermen boats would go out and come in; when the cruise lines, yachts, or ships came in and of course, left. We heard the bellowing sounds of the great ships when they were harbored. The word horizon was part of my vocabulary ever since I remembered describing mountain tops, or the sun rises in the east or sets in the west. It seem to have been the famous word among the fishermen too. The clouds, I was told, can give indication as to whether the sea was laden with fish or not; otherwise, was it worthwhile that the fishermen go out to sea. Will there be gentle rain or torrents? Is a storm or hurricane boiling somewhere? The older people read the clouds like meteorologists, they knew. And what’s that smell?-No one could have described the smell of the rain before it came, but yes, we smelt it! I felt that I could’ve eaten the rain before it had fallen.

O Rain Fall

O Rain fall.

Fall like you’ve never fallen,

Fall that our tears may flow with your many waters.

O Rain fall,

Fall that the mountains be drenched in your power,

Fall that the valleys be overwhelmed in your abundance.

O Rain fall!

Fall that mankind may see beyond their inner mind that you

Are supernatural, fulfilling their everlasting desires;

Without you they shall creep into the dust:

Searching, pounding, wishing, that he had just one drop
Of your strength,

Then can he learn to save you.

O rain your time to fall is beyond his time;

You are supreme, so burst those clouds
Now, rain fall

So our tears may flow with your many waters…

jjf (c) 2016

Before The Rain Came

A silver lining stretched itself upon the calm sea
The setting sun reflecting like a mirror
Upon portions of the deep blue water
The clouds drifted like a phantom with pale expressions
While lazy ships drifted into the harbor with all precaution
No hustle or a bustle
While the small heads of the fishermen can be seen in the distance
They are coming to port for the fish had stopped flying
One glance and the palm trees no longer swayed gently
The ships were gone
The fishermen were in
Beyond the dull horizon; beyond the pale sky and grey sea
Clouds descended like un-scrubbed aluminum
Once more the force of the rain penetrated the calmness of the sea
Moving fast, drenching the entire Island in one colossal coat
The only music heard was the cacophonous sounds of the objects
Beating under its drops
Once more the eyes were closed to sleep.

jjf (C) 2016

Special Mark

Can you remember

The times that you played beneath the sugar apple trees
Skating on its golden leaves
Crushing them into the dry thirsty earth
Eating of its fruit which kept you filled for a day

Can you remember

The times you played beneath its greenly shade
Jumping on its delicate leaves
Deeping them into the creamy mud
Wishing it bore your favorite fruit

Of course you remembered!

The season was not yet
Even when you gazed up high
Just waiting

And then waiting became a game…

Only your tears flowed to water the pain
You bore from the teeth of the earth

Which left you with a special mark of childhood

Edited & written by jjf (c) 2016