The Maple Leaf

I will hold your maple leaf within my heart,
(the old man softly said)
for all my days.
You came from far away to succor us,
with flash of red and white
and blue berets.
From a land of peace you sought to carry peace,
to a hell of killing fields
and homes ablaze.

When this house fell from ancient tribal worms,
infesting our foundations
from within; 
those worms that spew a slimy trail of hate
for all the "lesser breeds"
of blood and kin;
how could we hope for help from those without,
for rescue from
our self-inflicted sin?

Embedded in the lies our legends wove;
trapped by the games
our reckless leaders play;
we tore the ties that bind the social web.
For barbarism we had cleared the way!
From life's dark underbelly, loosed the flood
that civilization, only,
holds at bay.

The grand old bridges, echoing the steps
of cargoes carried
at an ancient pace; the legacy of buildings long revered
as treasured tributes
to the human race;
were humankind's inheritance -- not ours,
were never ours
to pillage and erase!

But still you came, forgiving flag unfurled;
with willing hands,
and eyes that mirrored grief.
And because you came, to save the innocent
from the deadly consequence
of "true belief" --
I will hold, with hope rekindled in my heart,
the comfort
of a crimson maple leaf.

Pat Duffy Hutcheon, Humanist in Canada (Summer 1994), p.29.