I don’t remember leaving Ireland,
only arriving, as if just born, off the boat.
Jelly legs find earth unsteady
after weeks aboard the Empress of France.
Parents speak rapidly
with smiling voices,
emigrants to a New World
Quebec is light, colour, noise
and swooshing cars with glossy names,
Chevrolet, Chrysler, Oldsmobile.
My new half-brother
speeds us in his Pontiac
through pine forest tang,
green trees go on forever.
Already wide, the Petawawa River
opens to the Ottawa, songs
lilting in their names.
This white house is just for us, we four –
and that scary Jesus picture,
shipped all the way from home, flashing
his fiery heart and follow-you eyes.
Big brother, home from school, teaches me,
Van Der Berg, Kinosha, Hoffmann,
Schultz, twisting my tongue, compared
to Kelly, Mc Guigan, Hegarty and O’Brien.
Featureless fading snowmen last
for months, then summer’s melting heat,
sticky hands, damp clingy sheets.
On our way to picnic by a lake,
the car skids on a million mashed caterpillars.
I swim on Uncle’s back, squealing,
squealing, listening for echoes.
Barbecue smoke clings to hair
and clothes as we ride home singing
O Canada, our home and native land.
About the Author: Sheena is Irish but has lived in Nottingham for almost forty years. Following retirement, she began writing and now has an MA in Creative Writing from Trent University. She has been published in The Beacon, Reach, Sarasvati, Dawntreader and Orbis. Twitter: @weesheenanigan
More by Sheena Bradley:
Image Credit: “On the St. Lawrence River at Riviere du Loup” (1900) Public Domain: The Library of Congress