They pull and they paw me
They’re seeking to draw me
Away from the roundness
of the life
-I Pity the Country, Willie Dunn
I picture a fine, woven web that begins and ends inside a spider. The spider begins and ends in the web of life that has no beginning or end because it is a circle. Our social and blood relationships are intertwined webs, beginning and ending in each of us, who in turn begin and end in the circle.
When we came here, we encountered peoples whose sense of things is circular and revolving, slowing turning and returning to the same places and seasons. Although time has passed, even now to our disciplined, science-based, settler minds, the circle is an inconvenient mystery – we can’t find its beginning or end. Circles don’t stretch out across the land as straight lines do, pinning down life with sharp edges. The circle curls up into itself and spreads out, getting in the way of our complicated systems: electrical grids, roads and bridges, telecommunications lines strung out over the earth. Our straight lines are hard and flat as a sheet of glass pressed down onto mystery and disturbance: onto land we have never understood, but instead try to measure, parcel out and square away. Straight lines that freeze in place tracks of wild animals weaving through forests, running through backyards in the middle of the night, stopping in mid-air all the wings that ride the wind above our houses at dusk. We would pin it all down.
This is the place we call Canada, but this place sees Canada and laughs. The very idea. As if. This place stretches out endlessly, and I am small in it and can’t see the beginning or the end. We have drawn our lines, but we’re lost inside the circle. It’s outside of our outer world, beyond our imagination. It makes up the sky that holds our sky. All our rivers and oceans flow within its firmament of waves. It keeps spreading out every time we think we’ve touched it, taking us further into the wild.