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The Little Towns of Bethlehem

John Terpstra


For unto us
                     in Aklavik
is born a child, in
                                      Attiwapiskat
         Gaspe
                            Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.
And a son is given, in
                                      Westaskiwin
                                                            Bella Coola
Flin Flon.
                            And the future of the whole earth
is placed upon the shoulders of the daughter of
Tuktoyaktuk
                            Tignish
                                                        Swan Lake.
And the place of their birth is called
                                                                           Vermilion
Temiskaming
                                                                  Nain.
                        Picture Butte

An angel of the Lord appears in the night sky
over Rankin Inlet, over
                                          Iqaluit, saying
This shall be the sign: you will find the babe
wrapped in cast-off flannel, lying
on a bed of straw, in
                                      Esther, Alberta
in a winter feeding stall
an open boxcar, outside
                                          Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

And sure, several hours north
from Hogg's Hollow, just this side
                                                        Englehart
you see a one, sleeping in its mother's arms
on the soft shoulder, where their car broke down.
And the dark highway shines
                                                   imperishable life
while helping them
                                       beneath these northern lights
and driving on, through
                                                Cochrane
                                                                           Kapuskasing
                            Hearst
past Nipigon, and on
                                       to the little town of Emo
Rainy River Region,
                                       and least among the little dots
that lie scattered as stars
                                          and litter the map
of Northwest Ontario,
where they're expecting you,
                                              as in so many other
of these least likely dots
                                          this expectation
also is; in
                                      Miniota
                                                                           Pickle Lake
                                                                                               Ohswekan
                     Glace Bay.

For unto us.
For into all
                       this night
is born a child, this night
                                          bearing each,
and the places of their birth,
                                              and nativity is given
                                              every name.



John Terpstra's works copyright © to the author.


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