Home is a city that doesn’t exist

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

She is a gathering of villages
grown and spread and near obsolete,
woven together
the ghosts of her founders lurk, people the shadows
of tree-dappled parks and streets
and river paths overhung with iron bridges.

I wander down the Pottery Road
where the abandoned brickworks lie crumbling
scooped into the crook of the Don River
and along the banks the Algonquin paddled
their ghosts long-since driven,
then up and down her streets again
past shops and bars and cafes like no other.

This city lives on in my memory – just dreams
built on history, fed with art and promise
no concrete jungle here, not yet,
the four seasons still colour-cycle through
her canopy, this vestige of the land’s ancient glory
lining now the roads and avenues
trails the first peoples once tread.

The pictures on all the postcards
tell of a great lake and lights twinkling
stretching away into the night
but I know her skyscrapers grow and multiply
crowding the lake-fed sky
shadowing the brick-red houses
of earlier times left behind
and I still remember the day
the tallest tower first stood
with a hundred children’s names signed to it.

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

I thought I would live my life there.




The prompt from NaPoWriMo day 16 was to fill out an “almanac questionnaire” about a specific place, real or imagined, and to then write a poem inspired by one or some of the answers. Without giving it much thought, I began answering the questions about my hometown. It didn’t take long for me to get lost down memory lane, eulogizing my favourite parts of the city. As the poem formed, I had to admit that this place I think of as home is both real and imagined – and though it’s been 23 years since I lived there, I still dream about it, still call it home.

4 thoughts on “Home is a city that doesn’t exist

  1. I love how the thoughts of your own history/childhood meld into the larger history of the place. A lovely, contemplative rhythm. Vibrant touch points in every stanza– the paddling Algonquin, the colors cycling through the canopy, the lake-fed sky.

    • Thank you. This was one of those poems that I held onto for far too long and couldn’t get right, but sent out into the world anyway. Maybe it says what I want it to say after all.

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