“Nathan Cirillo” by Sneha Madhavan-Reese

Sneha Madhavan-Reese


It is harder to lose something
when you know its name. See how easily
we can lose entire forests, when we live
in the city and never speak to those trees?
And how much joy from a bird we recognize—
a blue jay, say, or a cardinal—as a flash
of colour pauses to land on a rooftop.
When I heard of the murder
of a soldier downtown, I thought of only
my children at first: whether they
were safe at school, or alone, or afraid.
I thought of my husband’s commute
that evening, how long it would take
for him to come home. I followed the news,
the photos of paramedics, noted
which streets were closed, which buses
were re-routed. But when they released
his name, Corporal Nathan Cirillo,
I felt my chest crumble. I walked outside
along my street and named the trees:
the maple, the ginkgo biloba, the ash
destroyed from the inside
by the emerald borer.

Poets Respond
November 2, 2014

[download audio]


Sneha Madhavan-Reese: “Watching the coverage of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s funeral this past week, I found myself reflecting on the events of the day that he was shot and killed in Ottawa (October 22nd). I felt strangely detached at first, as we so often do when we hear news stories. I tried to capture the moment when my detachment changed to the bewildered grief that so many of us are still feeling. ” (website)

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