Monday, May 29, 2006

That Cultural Nerve

Madcap Mum has an interesting post (with a fascinating intense exchange in the comments), which brought to mind a song of mine. This song was inspired by a tense moment at a workplace workshop aimed at fostering intercultural understanding. One of the leaders told us all, in words I don't remember exactly, that we didn't have any roots here; our roots were back in Europe. I don't think he succeeded at creating any understanding at all.

No Place

You tell me that you
have no home.
My people
took it, long ago.
A thousand of us
till these fields
and leave no place
for you to go.

But you tell me that your
roots run deep
and that you belong to this land
as I never can.
And you tell me that my
spirit sleeps.
And it dreams of where it should be
far across the sea . . .

If that is true, I
have no home.
My people
left it, long ago.
A thousand others
till those fields
and leave no place
for me to go.

As the fields around us begin to blow
and the salt crust whitens where the land is low,
"Yes," you say, you could have told us so,
but of course we couldn't know,
with our roots across the ocean . . .

But as we talk here, our
children play.
See them share that dusty schoolyard
where the ground is hard.
Oh, oh, what will their
grandchildren say
when they seek a dwelling place
on this planet's face?

Will they tell their gods, "We
have no home.
Our people
took it, long ago.
They left us poisoned, desert fields.
A thousand years until they heal . . .

They left no place

for us to go.


Evydense said...

I love the sentiment in your lyrics. All my life, I've been asked what my 'roots' are, or what my heritage is, and I've just automatically responded "Scottish and English'. Truth is, though, I'm 5th generation Canadian. That means my heritage is largely French and English, with doses of everything else Canadian thrown in.

It's just been recently that I've started to understand that. The French aren't 'them', nor are aboriginal Canadians, or any other group. They are my history. And while being proud of that (I read the discussion about 'tea and culture' on the other blog) I'm also learning to put less emphasis on differences and more on diversity.

There's no real point in comparing cultures, except for identifying how they differ...not for determining which is 'better'.

Madcap said...

I'm here for tea, Laura - is the kettle on? ;-) That song reads well as straight poetry, too, very nice.

You know, it wasn't until today that I ever bothered figuring out how many years the family's been kicking around these parts. It was a little surprising. No wonder it gives me panic attacks to think of leaving the prairies! I could be tempted though, with nectarines and grapes. Did you know that they grow those in the Annapolis Valley in N.S.? Chive's already dreaming of wine from his own vineyard, I think.

Saskboy said...

Sorry for cold-emailing you, but I'm just writing to let you know you're
invited to an outdoor get-together for Sask Bloggers on Saturday July 22nd in Regina. If you would like more information, visit Saskboy or Stephen Glauser and let us know if you can attend.



Saskboy said...

Have a good time in Forget. Maybe the Saskatoon date will work better, or there's probably next year too :-)

arcolaura said...

(muttering to self) - Where is that kettle? I know I had a kettle . . .

(out loud) Thanks Mum! Annapolis Valley, huh? Nectarines? Oh, don't tempt me. I have a friend who moved to Truro just when I was getting to know him, too. But you know, we can't ALL live there. And I, with my roots here less than one generation deep, just starting to get an inkling of how deep the waters run - I think I'd better stay here.

We have the best saskatoons, you know.

CG said...

I like the song too, and I think lots of people do have that feeling of not belonging anywhere. I have always been happy and proud to have been from somewhere. Perhaps the measure of that is how bad some people want to get away from it!

I know someone who farms the same farm that has been in his family since 1820, the very same land, and when I knew him when he was 40, he didn't feel so much as if that were home. He was a wanderer. He's 65 now and seems to have finally laid claim to it. But when I was 18, he was amazed at how at home I felt in the mountains.

I can imagine having that home feeling about wide open spaces. I loved being in the desert southweat in ways I never would have imagined too. But I'll stay here and I'll make no apologies for having a vibrant culture

Granny said...

Beautiful and not at all what I expected to find.

I answer half Italian and the other half mixed Scot, Irish, and who knows what else.

Truth is I share the culture of my adoptive family. One side goes back before the Revolution; the other before the Civil War (originally settled in Canada).