Prime Minister Trudeau, the 45th Parallel, and Dewey Decimals

LCBelans 2018-19



At the 45th parallel
a row of potted petunias
separates
the longest international border
in the world.

In this parallel
universe
one tiny library
straddles two cities
two countries,
shares one
Dewey Decimal system.

if
We the People
stand
on Caswell Avenue
in Derby Line, Vermont,
in the stacks
at 971.1,
and You the People
stand
on Church Street
in Stanstead, Quebec
at 974.1 –
our arms
stretched toward each other
palms facing upward
cradling the history
of our two worlds
fingers casting
beams of light
onto each other’s pages

and fears...

If
We stand
under our shared
neutral sky,
north to south
south to north,
our humbled bodies
forming a cantilever
across the
celestial sphere,

perhaps
We can
bridge the great divide,
rift,
row
of potted petunias
across running rivers
falling waters…

perhaps
We the People
can stand
with Langston Hughes
On the rich soil of the world.
or cross
boundary waters
of regret
On the rivers of the world.

If
We slowly
run our fingers
across poets’ spines
at 811/.54/42
where Naomi Shihab Nye’s
Kindness resides…

if
You
Stay walking with me
through the stacks
where Margaret Atwood’s
Lonely Military Historian warns us
Wars happen because the ones who start them
Think they can win…

Maybe
if
We cross
this boundary
the longest international border in the world
between two countries.
join hands
touched by poets’
wisdom

and warnings of war,

Perhaps
We can
meet
where Nye offers
Different Ways to Pray.

if
We stand
toe to toe
on creaky planks.
a line
of electrical tape
demarcating
the exact international border
just beyond
where
Hughes reassures us
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles,

just past
where Wendell Berry
reminds us
We must wait
the slow unalterable forgiveness of time,

Perhaps
We can raise our voices
in the Haskell Free Library & Opera House
and with Leonard Cohen
sing Democracy’s song
And the mountain's going to shout Amen.

Oh, Canada
Oh, Canada.