Standing, still

by Monique Woroniak

Monique Woroniak is a part-time writer and full-time librarian living in Winnipeg, Manitoba—Treaty 1 Territory and the home of the Red River Métis.

 

It’s April 2014, after a long winter
when I think of residential schools,
leaning into a kitchen sink
washing a day’s worth of spoons.

A year’s worth of weather
streaks the windows,
offering just enough glaze
to hide spontaneous, dark sobs.

It’s July 2012, a sky hurting-bright
and standing near Portage and Main
in a dress, flowing over
a body of missed chances.

People gather under the sun,
not hiding, for missing and murdered.
Surrounding survivors of survivors,
cameras everywhere stop time.

Balanced in hot palms
resting like anvils on shoulders,
a few mounted to buildings like spouts,
catch when tears bubble up.

Betraying, they leak
on to a strong woman standing,
proclaiming
“It’s beautiful out—a beautiful day.”

It’s October 2013, clear
and into evening still,
another crowd gathers to recall a proclamation
none of us were there to witness.

But we’re watching now,
and leaning on railings rubbed smooth,
a disappearing finish,
making room for reflections.

A survivor-woman standing
beams, shares the sun
and insists
“I am glad you are here.”

It’s February 2014, disturbing the sky
in a plane hurtling down.
False lights of a cold diamond-spray
cheat the way home

in time for a living room ceremony
five minutes from where I began.
“Thank you for coming.”
and the room lights up.

When I think of shared histories,
and remember nights I wasn’t there,
I count the dark
until it’s lifted, clear
and away from today’s light.

Standing,
you can see who’s left,
and who’s still missing.

 


Monique Woroniak is a part-time writer and full-time librarian living in Winnipeg, Manitoba—Treaty 1 Territory and the home of the Red River Métis.

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