To fear less

By Clara Lu – Class of 2017

A boy my age walks in during walk-in with a hole in his leg.
My second week at the clinic, his second day in Canada.
The relief of a final landing tempered by a wound
re-opened and inflamed.

The exit wound already healed,
the entry wound newly festering.
The trial of escaping one country,
the tribulation of adopting another.

Across an interpreter, he tells us
how. There is no why. In Syria,
shot in the leg. With friend,
shot in the head.

Memento mori,
scar without pride.
His smile wry with
humour his eyes
cannot find.

And I,
sharing his age
and far little else,
remember forgetting
that luck is geography,
that fear is sharply relative,
that privilege is as simple as not being shot.

Echoes of an old piano teacher
questioning my fear of the concert stage,
her thick accent asking Who’s going to shoot you?
Of Georgia, once USSR, for whom performing
never matched a gun pointed to the face.

beyond guns,
I have learned to fear laughable things:

Novelty, finality, the unknown
and the unknowable, the forgotten word
and the injured pride, the sun-setting past
and the sunrise future I’ve deserved no more
than this boy of brave smile
for the hole in his leg,
who teaches me now
if not fearlessness

then at least
to fear


under guns,
months later –

the world holding its breath for
the city of lights, burning and yet
resounding with the quiet fury of
même pas peur, still
we fear less, still
we defy fear.




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