Archer Pechawis


The bones are sleeping. Restless, they dream.

T'karonto listens, hearing only the long ice-night sigh
dreaming brief eternity Pleistocene cold
dreaming deep time centuries as seconds
dreaming ice-nights long end

waiting for waking:
waiting for the warm-thaw dreaming light
of ice-slide long retreat
flexing tendrils to life melted home
walking land scraped whole
dreaming bones stretched out under a new hope sun
quickening tundra sparse trees to animal flowing forest

reborn as Glacial Lake Iroquois
a shoreline of time left visible
in ten thousand year Scarborough Bluffs
cradling species of men in hide canoes
spreading sudden fire and stone
through bone and earth
reaching for a night-bright dream, always beyond
as the bones become Lake Ontario

T'karonto: named at the Narrows
"where there are trees standing in the water"
connecting Lake Simcoe and Couchiching
brought south by the Humber and forward through time
along the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail

surveying canoes turn to steamers
to longhouse to mission to forts built and burnt
in tiny epics of bent earth
the bones watch the city grow and burn
rebuilt by newer men with blackened hands and hungry children
as ravenous bankers seek monument
in the testimonial pulse of man-time stone canyons
the small thunders of men cast dust in the eye of creation

See my bones, flowing Rouge Humber Don
but where are the others?
hidden under time and ambition
the blind freight of generations
small names given by those
who name to forget

Asylum Creek
Burke Brook
Castle Frank Brook
Cudmore Creek
Garrison Creek
Market Streams
Mud Creek
Russell Creek
Spring Creek
Taddle Creek
Walmsley Brook
Yellow Creek


No. Not even asleep

the hidden bones move through small spaces below
feeling centuries, ages, the time eternal now


traced over time by newer eyes
the bones lead dancers of the Caribana
and the Skydome Powwow
along Queen Street
people dancing beat SUVs into plowshares
to rend asphalt bindings

dug free

These bones don't belong to you
These bones of our origin
they are of you
through you
for you
in you

the bones of the worlds dreaming life
lay dreaming at your feet
future city shining the eternal now
flowing golden sight to Lake Ontario
linking the city in the great circle of the world


the bones of T'karonto listen to us
waiting for the first stroke of the Clock of the Long Now
waiting for us to listen.


This poem was commissioned by Diaspora Dialogues for the City of Toronto's 175th anniversary. I would like to thank Artistic Manager Philip Adams for asking me to take part in this celebration.