Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts
Fiction   /   Nonfiction   /   Poetry

How We Became New World People

by Darrell Bourque


Before the world we’d always known became a place we hardly knew

at all, we lived at ease with whatever came our way. What had been ours

then was ours no more & ships carried us away into a world so new

we could not have dreamed it: this land the Mi’qmac called Cadie, the bowers


rich and green & belonging to no one particular, especially to no one claiming

it was theirs. Cadie was plenty & there was plenty of everything for everyone.

Home was here now & unattached to anything but here. Authority aiming


at compliance got bent and twisted here & what had to be done could be done

in unaltered time. Whatever might fall apart just fell apart & what needed framing

could be framed in natural time: learning another tongue, falling in love, the sun


going down, coming up. So when they burned our houses to move us west, threw

everything we owned into the fire, we could not go. When neighbors’ lives soured

& they took refuge in the woods, we could not go. Whether we were many or few

we’d become other than what we were before. We were ourselves & would not cower.