This picture surprised us from a parchment placemat in a Toronto restaurant about 10 or 15 years ago. My sisters and I had stopped in for a coffee and were astonished to see our picture staring up at us. The owner had picked a random picture out of the Ethelbert Homecoming book and it happened to be ours. What a wonderful and exciting surprise that was! Inspired by the nostalgia that picture invoked, I came home and I penned this poem and called it:
A city far away
Strange and unfamiliar
In a restaurant, simple, homey
I sit staring, unbelieving
At a placement - unique, yet unpretentious
“Just a bit of nostalgia” they called it
“True Canadiana” they said
Just random photos of bygone days
Reproduced and printed
On white parchment with scalloped edges
Decorated with antique scrolled designs.
But the picture on that parchment is not insignificant
The people in that snapshot are not nameless
Where did it come from?
How did it get here?
This picture of my old home
The house with the whitewashed walls
And the double window that faced the morning sun.
My brother and I
Standing just knee high
To our older grown up sisters, brother
Solemnly posing on the front steps.
Those steps that my father built
From wood that stood behind the old shed.
And mother coming towards us
Along the picketed flower bed
With a sidewise glance at the photographer.
I gaze in awe at my past
Looking back at me through years of time
And wonder at this marvel
Prompted by a stranger unaware.
Not insignificant, this picture
It’s me, my roots, my childhood home!
My early youth,
So long forgotten
By a stranger unknowingly resurrected.
A house no one considered important
A family no one recognized but me
This home looking back at me
From this picture in a stranger’s unlikely abode
In this faraway place of “now”.