“In Thunder Bay I Walk into a Dog Park” by Grace

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. This June, Poetry Pause celebrates Indigenous and LGBTQI2S+ poets for Indigenous History Month and Pride Month! Read “In Thunder Bay I Walk into a Dog Park” by Grace.

In Thunder Bay I Walk into a Dog Park

By Grace

holding Tim Horton’s coffee

not because it keeps my hands warm

or because it tastes good

but because Tim is

more Canadian than all of us.

A man in a baseball cap

gold chain round his neck

offers me a smoke

like it is a peace offering,

the heavens open

and all my doubts about living

here evaporate.

We watch our dogs run,

snap at each other, circle

like gladiators—

his Doberman plays with my puppy

too roughly

while the other dog owners

watch. I am reminded

of how much

we can stand to watch

before saying


Yer want me to light her up?

Just say the word,

Mama Heidi can take it

he says, waving the e-collar remote

in my face

as if to say, See?

See how generosity and violence come out

of the same mouth.

I shake my head

and tell him

She seems fine.

The difference between dogs

and humans

is dogs will forgive us

anything. He leans close, tells me

about a recent shooting nearby.

It’s ‘cause we got more of

you people

here now—

I am my dog

and my dog is me

and the other dog owners watch.

I don’t know

if he means you Chinese people or

you women with short haircuts

who wear too many rings

on the wrong fingers.

Turns out he means you city folk

and I can breathe again.

I once believed

in a passport, a certificate, a song.

Now I just want

to believe that we love our dogs

so much, we’d take them

to the park

even when it rains—

that we love our dogs so much

it makes up

for not loving each other


Copyright © Grace

Previously published in CV2 (2023).

Grace is a settler living in Ontario on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council comprised of the Beausoleil, Rama, and Georgina Island First Nations. Her debut poetry collection, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak, is published by Guernica Editions and a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her work can be found in Grain Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Arc Poetry, and elsewhere. Find her on Instagram at @thrillandgrace.

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