Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border

It is never easy

Walking with an invisible border

Separating my left and right foot

I feel like an illegitimate child

Forsaken by my parents

At least I can claim innocence

Since I did not ask to come

Into this world


Walking on both sides of this

Invisible border

Each and every day

And for the rest of my life

Is like having been

Sentenced to a torture chamber

Without having committed a crime


Understanding the history of humanity

I am not the least surprised

This is happening to me

A non-entity

During this population explosion

In a minuscule world


I did not ask to be born an Inuk

Nor did I ask to be forced

To learn an alien culture

With an alien language

But I lucked out on fate

Which I am unable to do


I have resorted to fancy dancing

In order to survive each day

No wonder I have earned

The dubious reputation of being

The world’s premier choreographer

Of distinctive dance steps

That allow me to avoid

Potential personal paranoia

On both sides of this invisible border


Sometimes this border becomes so wide

That I am unable to take another step

My feet being too far apart

When my crotch begins to tear apart

I am forced to invent

A brand new dance step

The premier choreographer

Saving the day once more


Destiny acted itself out

Deciding for me where I would come from

And what I would become


So I am left to fend for myself

Walking in two different worlds

Trying my best to make sense

Of two opposing cultures

Which are unable to integrate

Lest they swallow one another whole


Each and every day

Is a fighting day

A war of raw nerves

And to show for my efforts

I have a fair share of wins and losses

When will all this end

This senseless battle

Between my left and right foot


When will the invisible border

Cease to be

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Bibliographical info

Alootook Ipellie, "Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border," from Gathering: The Enowkin Journal of First North American Peoples: A Retrospective. Copyright © 1999 by Alootook Ipellie. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Alootook Ipellie.

Source: An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, 4th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2013)

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