The Promised Land

— my hands have grown weary from clutching at the shoulders of the sun.
my father was the great-grandson
of a father I didn’t meet I couldn’t speak to — with his back bent over the brown dust of a house
he had named for his own — burying his body like a second shadow between the grass stalks
and my name was not there in between the gap of his teeth.
a mother
I never knew was a woman not from here — born cradled by a horse-drawn carriage
built from the bones of her grandmother's river raft floating across the shore of her eyes
coming to her own sealine — a golden cusp of wheat crowning the horizon where the rising dawn lay.
her children’s bare feet across the amber earth — the pale soles like seashells
her hands — his hands — open to praise the hope of an ocean-wide sky.
so she came with this father and those children with forgotten names — I remember
my great-great-grandmother in the graveyard her face in a photo given by a stranger — made of the folds of the dried roses atop the stone overgrown by pastures gone too sweet the fences gone soft at the edges —
and my light-skinned palms are bare from the harvests I have yet to reap – beyond the wish to blend in further than the bridges of my wrists —
with the curls of my hair twined lovingly by the fingers of my ancestors
— my own hands holding more than empty skin. carrying the earth of a community built between the wide sun and the sky — my shadow laid upon the grass — a horizon of a home I never came home to — swallowed by the soil — but is waiting for my return
my blessing is my return — to their smiles I never saw
but take upon my own lips — all the same.

A young woman looks at the camera

Tosia Wolska-Chaney

Grade: 12 / CEGEP I
Calgary, AB

“I've held the inspiration for this poem close ever since I first visited the community of Amber Valley, Alberta; one of the first Black settlements, and the place my ancestors once lived. Being mixed-race, my identity has always been a vague construct, one I can never fully define or feel belongs somewhere in particular. As part of this, I've experienced a sense of disconnection to who I am, particularly to my Black ancestry. Through this poem, I mean to pay homage to the heritage I am still learning how to embrace into my understanding of myself. ”


Tosia Wolska-Chaney is a 12th grade student from Calgary. She enjoys creative writing, reading, and going for long walks, when not involved with volunteering and other initiatives. Her poetry explores finding beauty in daily life and nature, and is rooted in her experiences as a biracial woman and youth.

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