Sébastien Bérubé. That Same Year

français / Mi’kmaq

– Translated by Éric Dow

Julie Whitenect. un-veil, 2017, mixed media silkscreen on paper, mounted on aspen, 30"x22"
Julie Whitenect. un-veil, 2017, mixed media silkscreen on paper, mounted on aspen, 30″x22″

Before they arrived
Before their hands scorched earth
People and hope
We could still believe
But that was before

Before we grew scared of our brothers
Before trust fled and hid
Behind a preferential rate
That only fear can repay

Before they trapped popular opinion
And muzzled it
With a job

Before humanity became a resource
And resentment, a fuel
Before people became raw material

When we talk about community
When we talk about living together
They don’t understand the words
Because they don’t rime with :

They covered the mountain in tar
And your eyes dried in the scorching heat
They say the horizon disappeared
That same year
Never to return

They built pipelines through our bodies
But our cries couldn’t shake the shell
Of their Bermudan trough-monster
That same year
The fish started swimming on their backs

They practiced their call to action
Always higher always further
Until no one had the strength to act
You don’t need to think to drive a harvester
The leaves turned into needles
That same year

They built roads
That we can’t even take
Kilometers of broad-leaved pride and oblivion
That same year
The hardwoods began to lie

They built rivers of oil
Where plastic smiles swim
Hope drowned in sewage
And money learned to swim between the bodies
That same year

They put landmines under our feet
So we’d forget the way home
They say we began thanking them
That same year
For their help in guiding our steps

They spread their kingdom on crowns
And bowed down before themselves
That same year
If every rose has its thorns
Their spruce have their needles

They discharged death where we drank
Leaving us the dirty work
The poison began to flow in our veins
Every second week
That same year

They drew imaginary borders
But the walls we built ourselves
And obediently respected them
That same year
Money started growing on trees

They grafted wooden fangs
To their sinister snouts
Stealing kisses dripping glyphosate laced saliva
And we started eagerly rimming their asses
That same year

They sealed royalty into packs of 12
A Royale Treatment for their Majesta
Because they wanted more than just sweat and blood
We saw dignity disappear into the annals of history
That same year

They shattered sanity
That same year
And made highways of our obedient bodies
It’s easy to see afar
When those who own the horizon
Bow down to the machines

They dug out deserts
Where beavers built castles
They say credit blew up bogs
That same year
And subsidized rivers ran through our throats

They felled the tallest trees
Till piles of lumber loomed even taller
They say that profits are sturdier as 2 x 6s
A dangerous name bloomed on the sides of trucks
That same year

They hung job offers on hooks
To catch honest workers
They say that each time we cut a tree
A species dies
Men started eating like chainsaws
That same year

They built mountains where there were none
And made ditches of mountains
To punish all that didn’t march to their rhythm
That same year
The animals started running towards the headlights of trucks

They forged the skies of padlocked clouds
And the wind started spreading false promises
It’s easier to press the button with a refined soul
That same year
The price of good conscience plummeted by the gallon

They dressed the earth in rags filled with holes
And built smoldering churches
The hands of fathers forgot those of their sons’
That same year
Legacies rust faster than saws

They soiled our backyards
So our children could no longer play
To make them believe that eternal life is measured in zeros
The needles of death set off their communion
That same year
And we’re the ones who planted them

They built great walls of longing
So our communities could no longer see eye to eye
They say in our prayers
“Our Employer” replaced “Our Father”
That same year

Thankfully they forgot

Forgot that it takes more than a Bud Light ball cap
To make a man

That children know how to make believe

That a sawmill without slaves
Is just an abandoned Church

That fences can be jumped

That wood can burn
Oil too
And sometimes even helicopters

That a wage isn’t a contract

That they can take all they want
That respect is earned over time
That it always takes time
And that time is all we have left

That and the ravenous desire to witness their downfall
Hoping that it be slow
From high up
Without the forest to break their fall
Into the blackened river

They say each time we cut a tree
A species dies
This time, it might be us

A community
Has to talk to itself
But to start the dialogue
We first need to pull our tongues out of their asses

And then, only then, will we talk about living together again


Sébastien Bérubé
Published in No 17. Creating Community

Sébastien Bérubé. Photo : Annie France Noël
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