A Poem about all the places I could have been born instead of Montreal, Canada

A poem about all the places I could have been born instead of Montreal, Canada.


September 7th, 1999. Southampton, England


Here, my grandfather never chooses to uproot the family and spread sugar cane roots into Canada

I grow up on Denzel Avenue, a Sidhu family home that has raised us all

I have an accent thick enough to drown in

I spend my Saturdays working at my grandad’s shop,

I stop angsty British teenagers from stealing sweets


My mother’s bones are always damp because of the English rain

She trades shai paneer for scotch eggs instead of poutine


My father does not drop out of college

He works at a bank, he is more stock market that shelf stocker


I still grow up cheering Liverpool football club instead of Southampton

I grow up a dirty soccer player

I dig cleats into every boy who has ever hurt me


I grow up surrounded by family

My younger cousins recognize me

I am the older sister that the ocean never swallowed whole


September 7th, 1999.

Calgary, Alberta


Here, my mother and father choose to stay

They build their first home in a city that cannot make up its mind about the weather


My mother’s fingertips are blue from the cold instead of stained yellow because of haldi.

She learns how to chameleon herself in the prairies


My father works for an air conditioning company

He works long days assembling machines, he learns that small parts play an important role in the bigger picture


I am sprouting into the stampede

I am a wild thing worth knowing


September 7th, 1999.

Punjab, India


Here, my great grandparents do not believe in the promise of a new world

They choose to raise their eight children in the same place their family has lived for centuries

They do not cut off their ties to the motherland and their turbans


I am not Robyn I am Simran or Rajpreet or something, I am named after a grandmother I think


My mother is still a professor of Punjabi literature and I grow up thinking poets can be sun kissed too


The days are as long as my hair

I am a baptized Sikh, I flash my kirpan under the chin of every man who thinks himself conquerer


September 7th, 1999.



Here, my mother and father never meet on a rooftop.


Here in Punjab, my mother marries the boy next door


She continues her career as a professor and eventually runs the whole university

She mothers every bright young thing that enters her office

She learns anything there is to know about everything


She takes up the catholic faith and becomes a nun, swears celibacy like she sometimes tells me she should have done when I bother her


Here in Southampton, my father becomes a soccer player, he looks good in red and on the cover of sports magazines, he is half smile charming, his face is plastered on every wall in the country


He too thinks about how his family calls a new shoreline home every few years. He has even more of an identity crisis than I do


He does immigrate across the ocean to Montreal. He holds on to the first love of his life, he flips burgers while she works on becoming a paramedic. When she saves him from his first bad high, he says I love you back. He marries someone my grandfather does not approve of


Here I am just the wish of a someday daughter

Robyn Kaur SidhuComment