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.

Nowhere.

 

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

 

Here in Punjab, my mother marries the boy next door

Or

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

Or

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

Or

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

Or

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