For Ge Ni, the Canadian…

We know it was hard
but we can never know how hard
for how hard could it be
for a woman with such a smile?

In Canada, when two cars collide
we call the people inside
accident victims.

In Canada, when two cultures collide
we call the people in them

Both are heavy with loss.

It is as if
you went to sleep
and awoke to find the weave of the world
unraveled, rewoven,
the familiar textures and patterns of living

Then, as in an accident,
having to re-learn everything.

Learning as a child was easy
we knew nothing else
but learning as an immigrant

The comfortable ways
fled, vanished
like a car in the night.

Having to practice here
what needed no practice there,
each word, so easy there,
a labor here.

Not wanting to say the wrong thing
unsure of the right thing
knowing you could say it there
afraid to say it here.
Wishing to be heard,
to understand,
but above all
wishing to be yourself again.

We can not feel what you feel
but we can see what you can not see.

We see you.

Your hands, moving across a table
in grace and light
your smile, coming out
like a best friend coming out to play
so warm
glaciers are melting.

And know this:
we who are born here
not there
who feels its rivers
coursing in our veins
its mountains in our bones
its forests waving in our hands
its oceans washing our dreams,
know this is a better country today
because of you.

– James Lamb and family, 5 December 1995