I Know That Land

I know that land.

I stood there years ago

and watched the tears on Nana’s face

as she remembered a man she’d never met

who died in April, 1917

I know that land.

My eldest daughter sang there dressed in red and white

that was her face the camera found

her voice we all heard

I know that land.

I wore a uniform once, I know

what it is to stand so very still

against the wind to show respect

in a human sea

wondering about humanity

I know those rooms.

I walked there free not long ago

and shook the hand of a minister

who did not make me feel afraid

he heard me out, he said the things

politicians say.

All right, he lied.

But they were civil lies

and in the end he got his chance to vote

and I got mine

we disagreed

I did not cannonade those halls

or threaten to behead him

I know those rooms

where the carvers’ faces still peer down

I know that green

I’ve stood free to watch the lights

against the black of the northern sky

I strolled these grounds with visitors

warmed my hands, sang out loud

I know this land.

The blood is new, the blood is old,

I will stand there again in a human sea

I know these rooms

I know this land.

Poem by Alan Cumyn, front page of The Ottawa Citizen, Saturday October 24, 2014.

In Memoriam:

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Ottawa, October 22, 2014

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, St. Jean sur Richelieu, October 20, 2014

  • Alan Cumyn, Ottawater
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