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

restoring

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

there are

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.