“Watch out for the Americans,” we were told early on:
the wild-eyed nineteen-year-olds that make their way
from Detroit to Windsor, to Bentley’s over the border
who grope, grind, and follow us girls,
then steal back over the Ambassador Bridge
in the morning, snorting, giddy with getting away
from this second-rate automotive capital,
from the hard lemonade that legally stings the tongue,
from our sweet mouths, our girlish arms empty, yet open.
But no worries, girls: I can speak their language;
my father is the alien from Chicago and Salt Lake
who brought me over state lines for the summers.
I have it covered. And we Canadians aren’t as nice
as they say. We’re glaring, audio-abrasive on this side
of the border; we give a flick of a finger when they stare,
when they grab, when they corner, pull and run,
when we fight through a radius of fingers, mascara smudging
in the heat, our goose bumps writing a story.
On Thursday nights we take our revenge; in this Windsor bar,
here goes our best imitation of Cape Breton soul:
we scream in unison, raise bottles, go hoarse,
hook arms and lock the Americans out.
They look on in bewilderment, waiting to pollinate.
But they don’t know these words, this country’s bar anthem.
They can only swing their shoulders without knowledge
through tobacco, slosh through clouds of smoke,
clutch the beers they can only order here,
staring at the backs of our jeans as we dance.
Loren Walker was born in Ontario, Canada, and now lives and works in Rhode Island. She holds a Master of Arts in writing and poetry, and published her first novel EKO in 2016. Her website is www.lorenwalker.net.