In Africa a frail women balances a clay pot on her head, carrying cloudy water to her four children so they can have a drink of water to fill their grumbling bellies.
In Iraq a small boy is cowering behind his rusted shack, covering his ears in a weak attempt to block out the screaming and the roar of bombs that terrorizes his home village.
In China a teenage girl gags on the toxic air, forced to wear a mask just to breathe and walk down the overcrowded streets.
In Mexico a toddler plays with a broken bottle he found on the beach, among the heaps of trash washed up onto the shore.
In India a nine year old girl is sold by her family into slavery so they could pay for their son’s education.
Yet in Canada I get up and drink a big glass of water from my well.
In Canada I’ve only watched action movies with the explosions of guns and bombs.
In Canada I walk outside in the morning surrounded by pines and maple trees and inhale the crisp air.
In Canada I put out my garbage every Thursday morning so it can disappear when the truck comes.
In Canada I have my own education where an unlimited world of knowledge awaits me.
I’ve been blessed to live in Canada, a paradise too many take for granted.
The Devil is lurking
For an innocent soul
The night is long
As he discovers his victim
A little girl of three
Sweet and naïve
Curled up around her teddy bear
As the devil draws near
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I deeply inhale the earthy smell of dirt as I navigate my way through the Canadian wilderness found in my backyard, where countless acres of pine and maple trees are here for me to discover. Brightly colored leaves crunch underfoot as the cool October breeze tickles my naked arms. Crickets chirp their melodies as the setting sun casts a fiery glow across the clear sky. The wet smell of moss hits me; my feet sink softly in the thick texture of the moss that blankets the forest floor, absorbing my weight like a pillow. I get lost in the temperate paradise that quiets my worries and sparks my brilliant spirit. The maple trees’ bark is rough beneath my fingertips as I trace the worn lines embedded from years of exposure to the seasons. The soothing environment always brings me back throughout the past 16 years of my life; the branches beckon me home.
My feet beat on the uneven ground as my speed quickens; I dart between the trees that scratch at my exposed skin. A smile blooms from ear-to-ear, my momentum hurtling me over fallen trees as critters scatter in alarm at their disturb peace. I chase the retreating sun to no avail. My breath comes out in short rasps, hot on my tongue, as I push my body to its limit; my arms and legs pump rapidly, feeding from the hot adrenaline coursing through my veins. As I reach the embankment of the river I halt, closing my eyes. The sound of rushing water is intoxicating, echoing inside my head, drowning out the thumping of my beating heart. I am at peace in my home.
The air is thick with the hazy twilight mist; I can taste the clean, cool water as it collects on my tongue. The nighttime critters begin to wake from their sleep and prowl the night. Frogs croak restlessly, content on the riverside. Goosebumps rise on my arms as the temperature rapidly drops along with the receding sun. Dozens of stars appear like old friends, diamonds in the clear sky. I settle down, leaning against the trunk of an ancient birch; its lower branches embrace me like a lover. It whispers to me its secrets as I rest, my heart slowing to a steady pump. I can see the footprints in the mud of foxes and deer, revealing a path that another life has followed.
The ground is damp, water moistening the back of my legs and my butt as it absorbs through my worn blue jeans. The water lazily flows, a sweet lullaby. My fingers comb through the long grass, catching on twigs that have fallen from their home in the trees. My tense muscles relax and thoughts quiet as darkness finally envelopes the forest. The only light is cast by the full moon that shines boldly in the black sky. I am entranced by the display, not daring to move and break this illusion of peace and quiet. Worries shed like the bark on a birch tree, peeling away layer by layer to reveal the new pink skin beneath. I lean my head against the hard trunk of the tree, and slip away into my dreams.
A smile dances on my lips,
Laughter bubbles in my chest,
My mind soars to new heights,
My worries put to rest.
Working like a dog,
Sweating blood and tears,
Day and night, I built a life,
So now happiness found me here.
I could’ve whined and complained,
Cursed the unfairness of it all,
Got stuck in the poverty I was in,
Yet a better life calls.
Through storms and hurricanes,
I grew wings and learned to fly,
Never looking back,
On the life I left behind.
Quiet, can’t let him know I’m here. Yet I’m curious. Like an itch that must be scratched, I pull back the blanket that conceals my presence under my single bed. I can see thousands of tiny dust particles threw the light that shines through the crack, floating and undisturbed by my escalating heart rate. I peer around my bedroom that I have inhabited since I moved here five years ago with my Mother.
Things have changed so much since then.
I see my discarded clothing on the floor from yesterday; I see my tenth grade math textbook and long forgotten homework stack in the corner. I can make out the bottom of my black dresser and bookcase, stuffed full of the only footprints I have left so far in the world.
And now I can see the door swinging open and crashing into the wall, shaking the one story house on the back roads of Fredericton. I quickly let go of the blanket as my stepfather’s boots come into sight.
But I am not, and was never, fast enough.
` “You think you can hide from me you little bitch!” He roars as his footsteps come towards the bed. I shrink against the wall and squeeze my eyes shut, praying to dissolve into dust.
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Chin up, shoulders back,
they are beneath my feet,
Their words don’t hurt me,
Their petty lies don’t cause my defeat.
I walk with grace,
I smile dearly,
I work so hard,
If only they could see me clearly,
They would notice:
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