Chad Norman

In Memory of the Barho children

How a floor has nothing to say
is really about a lack of listening,
a lack of hearing, is really about
the accumulation of dust left
by a lack of human awareness,
or a floor that has been stepped on,
is really about how floors
are speaking all the time
with one wish to keep speaking,
but the silence of tiles
is to remain utter loss
only found in the dust
left by certain footsteps,
when I see how the sun found them
and allowed me to finally know dust,
finally hear how the floor
has nothing to say.
But, in some corner where light isn’t
I quietly make out
the sizes of the footsteps,
sizes I see range from
small to a bit larger,
like the sun sent seven different ones
all looking as if some children
have passed through,
seven sets in all, I see them
left so clearly in the dust
filled with what appears
to be ashes, appears to be
what a fire would leave behind,
but I am left again with
the silence of tiles,
no voices, no eyes, no faces, no smiles,
not even a whiff of any smoke,
of a flame, of anything I understand,
other than more of a story I heard
coming from some device
turned on in the morning,
in a living-room where I am alive
and have to take on the news,
what I try to avoid, but
unusually find myself in front of
the screen hearing about those
who once owned the footprints
the sun and dust eventually allow me
to somehow find my eyes
are unable to forget,
are so small but so dug in,
like little lives do when
playing certain games inside,
or walking down the halls of a school
before a broom can erase their presence,
or any tragedy striking
where they knew their home was,
and knew it as some place brand new,
a safer place where they could smile
without fear, look up to see the flag
of Nova Scotia, and hear it, perhaps,
clapping, or loudly flapping,
like a flag, somehow, still about freedom.

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