Meryl Stratford
On the Southern Border

          Who in a nightmare can help himself? — Anne Carson

what it means
to be a stranger.

A stranger is someone
who comes to Manitoba
in the dead of winter.

No one
comes to Manitoba
in the dead of winter.

A stranger walks many miles,
tramps through frozen farms
hoping for refuge.

A stranger gets lost
in waist-deep snow,
loses fingers, loses toes.

A stranger is one of many.
They keep coming.
The winter is harsh.

Some say the strangers are evil —
if they weren’t evil
they wouldn’t be strangers.

A stranger is poor,
desperate, afraid of
being turned away.

A stranger arrives
without documents,
fleeing chaos and war.

Open a door for the strangers
who have no door of their own.