an ottawa house

there were two trees
the linden tree out front was yellow
leaved late into the fall
a conical fragile stately resistance
after the leaves on another tree were gone
in back the manitoba maple was too thick to hug
slanting over one little row house then another
huge inviolate dangerous soft twisting wood
and a balcony in front was a wooden filigree
and the trim over windows and doors was
crowned with what some call star of david
yet built in 1895 – the nazi’s emblem for a jew
this house was standing with the trees’ permission
we lived there twenty years as americans
denied birthright by assassinations
finding our meaning in stray acts of kindness
until one night a wind storm split the maple
in halves lunging and closing overhead
with neighbours holding lights from their windows
a crew came to cut the tree and saved the houses
when the manitoba maple wasn’t there
it was like home when your parents are gone
we weren’t needed anymore and left
but the linden still climbs up into the sky
and like clarity when water fills your eyes
the stars with six points grace windows and doors
outlasting everything that pained us

John Bart Gerald is a poet/journalist living in Montreal. He writes the website concerned with the prevention of genocide. Read other articles by J. B..