Charles Dickens arrived in Toronto
as the drenched crowd applauded.
Rain shone on our soaked shoulders.
Stories froze in our open mouths.
The day was meant for celebration –
for literature, real literature, had come.
Not backwoods jokes of muddy shoes
or dead children beneath draped pines.
Real suffering, something to believe in.
When the moment came for him to speak
the words were disappointing. We’d
heard the sad stories before. The night
was clearing. Constellations bent down
from forever and bit our cheeks
with frank wonder. November stung us.
And we remembered the moment
of our arrival: snow falling helplessly,
and footprints in the brown muck
staking a claim we wanted to call home.