After Canada Day

Tiny Beach, July 3, 2021

After the lockdowns,
After the ragged works and restless days
Of these many months,
Between four walls amplifying
Each slight and jab
Each offence and outrage
Each rumor and testimony,
Old grievances rubbed raw
Beneath the added weight of waiting,
After all this, and more, and less,
My family and I have come to this great bay
We called Georgian
To wash our feet in the waves of the sea between the seas,
To walk the thousand-year sands of the shores
—Where how many bare soles and leathered feet
Have left their hour’s imprint?—
To mend our frayed cords and bonds
Beneath what seems an inconstant yet ever-present sky.

Small limbs in motion fire a sphere. A disc soars.
Curved mouths drink from cans and crunch wafers,
Small flecks of potato dusting the sands,
As the sands dust the limbs.
“It rubs off easy,” I say.

But amid the shouts and laughter of our boys
I see the remains of today, and past days,
That litter the shore.
A million moths writhe among the foamy lips
Of the lake. Who brought them here to die?
What at first looks like dried seaweed
Turns out to be the carcasses of scores of flies
Clumped into small mounds among
A scattering of tiny white empty shells.
Days of leisure atop the works and lives of yesterday
And tomorrow.

The beach changed overnight

remade by wind and wave.

I build with my boys,
Shoring up the particles of ages past
And the ruins of ancient ways,
Giving them form, for a time.
We dig and plan and pack and shape and build
While the statues fall, and all our castles crumble,
And the waves pound the beach
After Canada Day.


Anton E Bergstrom

Anton E. Bergstrom holds a PhD in English and Film Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. His dissertation was titled "Holy Estrangement: The Poetics of Estrangement in John Donne's Divine Poems and Sermons." He is an editor and writer for, and co-hosts 3 Brothers Filmcast, a monthly film podcast. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

'After Canada Day' have 2 comments

  1. July 20, 2022 @ 11:28 am Cynthia Erlandson

    Anton, I found this poem very moving. Your very first line, simple though it is, echoed to my mind the first three lines of “What the Thunder Said” from The Waste Land. Other lines, some of the rhythms, and the entire mood of the poem also reminded me of various scenes from Eliot: “To walk the thousand-year sands of the shores / Where how many bare soles and leathered feet / Have left their hour’s imprint?” evoked for me Prufrock walking along the beach; and your beautiful imagery of the people in the poem carefully building sand castles that would soon be leveled, was a poignant metaphor for the overwhelming sorrow brought on by the madness of those who crave power over other people. (And it made me think of “And the Church must be forever building, and always decaying, and always being restored.” from “The Rock”.) Perhaps the echoes of Eliot were not what you meant, at all — but this is a beautifully-built poem. “I see the remains of today and past days / That litter the shore.”‘ and “While the statues fall and all our castles crumble” are among my other favorite lines.


    • July 22, 2022 @ 10:55 am Anton Bergstrom

      Thank you so much for the comments! I am a great admirer of Eliot, so I think the echoes of his poetry are sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious.


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