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Blue Psalm

Dennis Lee
From:   Nightwatch: New & Selected Poems 1968-1996. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996.


                Hush hush, little
                            wanderer. Hush your
                    weary load.     Who touched down
                once, once, once in America—
                        and over you flashed the net!
    And they said, You will forget your name and
                                                your home and
                        it was so: already I had forgotten.

                                But how did I come to be here?
                                            This place is not my place,
                these ways are not my ways.     I
                            do not understand their
consumer index; their life-style options; their bottom line
                                            weird abstract superstitions, and
                        when I settled in to stay,
                            it felt unclean.

                            But that was a life ago.
                        For I flourished, I
                                            paddled in silks; I
                            wagged my tail for pay
        I poured sweet liqueurs on my tongue, and cried,
                            Here's to the old ways,
                                            here's to our roots . . .
                                What have I sunk to?

                Though they hem me with filigree,
                        this is not my country.
Though I bask on a diamond leash it is not my home.
            But what am I doing here still, how long will I
                            desecrate the name?
                who was born to
                        another estate, in a
                    place I have nearly forgotten.



Dennis Lee's works copyright © to the author.


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