“Flag” on Canada Day

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Today is Canada’s 148th birthday. And this year our flag turns 50!

I’m celebrating by reposting my poem “Flag,” written a few years ago.

One of Vancouver’s downtown hotels sported a gigantic Canadian flag during the 2010 Olympics. It helped  foster the Canadian spirit which infected  the streets of Vancouver during those fabulous weeks. (Photo © 2010 by V. Nesdoly)

Flag

National flag of Canada
two by length and one by width, red
containing in its center a white square
the width of the flag
with a single red maple leaf
centered therein”
*
flies majestic since 1965
over town squares
by cenotaphs and schools
from Cape Spear, Newfoundland
to Beaver Creek, Yukon
Alert, Nunavut
to Middle Island, Ontario.

Proudly raised at Olympics
wrapping the grim coffins of soldiers
feted on Canada Day
marched in to the skirl of bagpipes November 11th
this silk-screened symbol
stitches together
our experience and destiny
sea to sea to sea.

When so plentiful at home you no longer see
till it’s reincarnated into jester caps
umbrellas and wind socks
painted on faces, stamped on T-shirts
decaled onto mugs and beaver pens

abroad even one
grabs your homesickness
like the initials of a sweetheart.
Meet someone with your flag stitched on his pack
and you know he’ll understand Tim Horton’s
hockey, Z that rhymes with “bed”
loonies, toonies, Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall
Cirque du Soliel, CBC, Air Canad, O Canada.
Sorry, but great is it to have found someone
who speaks your own language, eh?

© 2008 by Violet Nesdoly

* Official description of the flag taken from the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.

The Canadian flag had a 40-year gestation. Read the story of its birth HERE.

The first flag was stitched together by Joan O’Malley, daughter of Ken Donovan, who Prime Minister Pearson asked to provide prototypes of the new design for a meeting with the premiers with just a few hours’ notice. The story is HERE.

 

Canadian Rivers

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Our poetry group is part of the Abbotsford Arts Council meet and mingle event at Mill Lake Park on Saturday afternoon. We’ll even be giving a short poetry reading.

Because Canada Day is just around the corner I was reminded of and have decided to read a couple of Canadian poems that I wrote a few years ago. One that I’ve been practicing is “Canadian Rivers.”

I’ve posted it on the blog before but I’m re-posting it today, along with a recording of it. Maybe it will whet your appetite to discover some of our beautiful Canadian rivers for yourself!

 

Unnamed Alberta river seen from the air

The river in the photo (name unknown) meanders across the Alberta prairie between Lethbridge and Calgary. (Photo © 2007 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Canadian Rivers

Headwaters drip from snowy melt of mountain glaciers
gurgle down glistening rock faces in nameless rivulets.
Fed by rain and sibling trickles they become sinuous streams
adolescent-eager in descent, unafraid to dash against boulders
froth into canyons, course over rock beds till they reach the flat.

Mature and strong they gouge valleys, meander through meadows
nurture forests, bears and eagles, rejuvenate farms and hamlets
flow regal yet restless through villages and cities
under bridges and over tunnels
ever pressing on to an ocean destination.

The watermark of veins, arteries and capillaries on our maps
they carve their initials, scrawl their signatures
all over Canada: Snake, MacKenzie, Coppermine
Exploits, Hillsborough, Saint John, Margaree, Moisie
St. Lawrence, Red, Qu’Appelle, Athabasca, Cowichan…

Named by Indians and explorers for Indians and explorers
they inscribe the plot lines of our history
hide the gold and call the salmon
propel the ferries, carry the logs, barges and ships
pave thoroughfares for tugboats, speedboats, kayaks, canoes.

We settle beside them for their sustenance and beauty
feel betrayed when, with spring-fevered earthlust
their swift-flowing waters bite off chunks of our land.
Then we fear them, dredge them, soil them,
treat them, dyke them, dam them.

I have toe-squished the mud of the South Saskatchewan
pulled Jackfish from the North
been awed by the Hell’s Gate fierceness of the Fraser
spied loons and cormorants gulping fish in the Nicomekl
otters cavorting in the Serpentine

driven miles beside the Thompson
as it winked at me through clearings
admired the canyons carved by the Bulkley
dreamed the legends of the Kispiox
listened from a tent to the night secrets of the Skeena …

Oh for more lifetimes
to make all of them mine.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday. It’s hosted this week by Carol at Carol’s Corner.
This poem was first published at Utmost Christian Writers Canadian site where it received honorable mention in 2007 Canadian Landscape Poetry Contest.