CXIV

I’m not sure whether it happened in Manitoba or Alberta: go home, they complained, go back, wherever pakis or niggers come from. Was 
I seven years old? Was I five? The day was cloudy; there was wind, and a sidewalk underfoot — a path of cement on which we kids marched. In whose place was I a guest, if home wasn’t this flat territory we were on? The hard sidewalk under my shoes, their sense of here. 
I walked home alone — I say “home” — I went where my parents paid rent, right? Our house wasn’t ours? Overhead, the sky spread out; the sky’s country was itself. We had moved from Ontario, but my gut got that they didn’t mean there. Immigrants, all of us, we’d chorused in assembly — the more immigrants, the kindlier the country, the folksier the mosaic. First the English and the French, then Western Europeans and the Ukrainians, I guessed, then Chinese and Indians, then the Guyanese and other such Commonwealth stragglers? Eventually we’d bring into “us,” Canadians, a panoply of the human race — so my sweet young self, in Trudeau’s aftermania, believed. Those children’s hate had a kind of guilelessness, however, that conveyed my abjection straight from their Canadian parents’ hearts. I was foreign to clear distinctions between master and savage — to fantasies of homesteaders who, by subjecting trees to their saws, had “mixed their labor” with “unowned” lands. Homesteaders, they called themselves, by principle: “home” was theirs, because they were first to fence it. As if we still were at war with whatever made entreaty against their fencing, my existence existing too near threatened. My very being entreated something before I ever opened my mouth. Get lost! Here kingly kids drink from institution’s cup. Something older than English yea well knows what with his guts he must disagree. Something français dit bon, histoire-là, je parle 
au-dessus du poète: domination, Dominion, domicile, home. I protested: one of my parents is here’s occupying family! Don’t blacken 
me! Please see my colonists’ blood, inside! They practiced the 
policing of reserve on the surface of my brown skin. They practiced homing in on enemy. The clouds above, the sky above, witnessed. The land underfoot said, here was here first. We thought about 
beginnings.