The burning point

I want to honour the victims of the Quebec City massacre, as well as the Muslims and refugees of the seven countries who have been targeted for exclusion from my native land, the United States. I also want to honour all of those kindhearted people of my homeland and across the world who know that this discrimination is not right -it is never right.

The burning point
-for the people of Quebec City, Canada, the United States,
and the Islamic World

I saw the burning point
a node flaming in the night; it licked
just west of the Frontenac then spread upward in an arc

They saw the flames
along the Pacific Rim, in the Rockies,
the Prairies, in the Shield and then the lower lakes

They saw them spread
along Kiel Ave and up the St. Lawrence
watershed; they saw them smoking along James St.

And even out into the fisheries
of Gaspésie, the Grand Banks and then past
the shoals of Sable Island where the wild ponies turned

To descry the full scene. I wandered
past the outer barrier of the heart, the place
where a brilliant band licked the lowest of the winter stars

Formed a penumbra between the river
and the trees. What did the spruce, white, and
jack pines see? The wolf, wolverine, the loon and beluga?

Though the cold was on my shoulder
it did not invade my coat as I stood among a
crowd of onlookers huddled close to one another

Reflected in their running eyes,
wet from the sting of the burning,
was the comfort of standing among the human:

Someone whose hands,
with fingers and nails;
someone whose feet,
with toes and bunions;
someone whose cheek,
now flushed red and a nose
unsettled by the January cold
possessed in tandem a purpose
as old as the first settlements here.

I couldn’t discern any noticeable difference
among the crowd, save a slight alteration in the
pigmentation, the color of their toques, gloves, coats,
and scarves; everyone huddled against the Arctic night

I suppose what I would like to know is how;

How did this crowd come to stand in this place,
along the shores of the fleuve Saint Laurent;
upon an island where whales of brilliant white
find their way out of waters with a depth as dark
as the remnants of that burned mosque;

To live now among those wounded and killed;
those angered and chilled by a cause they did not create;
by a history they may or may not have tried to contemplate;
by a past they hesitate to see as the burning point

Of the language that we all speak.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Note: The reference to a burned mosque refers to a Mosque that was set afire in Peterborough, ON in November 2015.

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