Letter to Sir John A. Macdonald

by Marilyn Dumont

This poem is taken the book A Really Good Brown Girl (Brick Books, 2015 [1996]). It is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher and the author.

Dear John: I’m still here and halfbreed,
after all these years
you’re dead, funny thing,
that railway you wanted so badly,
there was talk a year ago
of shutting it down
and part of it was shut down,
the dayliner at least,
“from sea to shining sea,”
and you know, John,
after all that shuffling us around to suit the settlers,
we’re still here and Métis.

We’re still here
after Meech Lake and
one no-good-for-nothing-Indian
stalling the “Cabin syllables / Nouns of settlement,
/…steel syntax [and] / The long sentence of its exploitation”
and John, that goddamned railroad never made this a great nation,
cause the railway shut down
and this country is still quarreling over unity,
and Riel is dead
but he just keeps coming back
in all the Bill Wilsons yet to speak out of turn or favour
because you know as well as I
that we were railroaded
by some steel tracks that didn’t last
and some settlers who wouldn’t settle
and it’s funny we’re still here and callin ourselves halfbreed.