Ice Storm in Montreal
The sound is almost musical,
jewel-like tinkles and everywhere
ominous cracks as branches give way
and surrender to the ice.
A blue light flashes on stone houses.
Burnt wire and ozone fill the air
as smoke drifts down the street.
The rain sounds like tiny nails
restlessly playing over the windows,
where candles flicker from behind shades
like small eyes peering out into darkness.
—Brad Hyde (January, 1998)
I wrote the poem, “Ice Storm in Montreal,”
after viewing news reports from Montreal during the winter of 1998. The
ice storm that winter left millions without electricity for several days
during severe cold weather. An ice storm occurs when rain turns to ice
when it hits the ground, causing power lines to fall, trees to break,
and the roads to become like skating rinks. We call this rain, “freezing
rain,” in B.C.
This is Brad
Hyde's personal response to "What's a 13-letter word for 'compassionate
aide'?" by Hayley Linfield.
An Old Man on
I saw him one rainy day in Vancouver, walking
down West Broadway. He wandered from one homeless person
to another, his hand outstretched, a few coins in his palm, giving
each his spare change.
He was short—only inches more than five feet—with a cap the colour
of putty. He said a few words of quiet greetings to each one. He
leaned heavily on his cane as he made his way to two men dressed in
garbage bags, sitting on the sidewalk in the rain. Perhaps he was
giving for a reason. Perhaps he too was once on the street and cold,
the rain hurling itself on his head. But, most likely, he just wants
to make some small difference on that wet Vancouver street.
Most of the busy shoppers that day respond typically to the
appearance of more and more cold and hungry people on the street. They
are probably thinking, “Why don’t they get a job and leave us alone to
do our shopping?”
Here we are, we citizens of Vancouver, the city at the heart of
“lotus land.” The number of homeless has doubled this year—we saw them
at the Woodward’s squat, we watched a tent city go up by False Creek,
we walked a path between the beggars on many city streets.
The old man, cane in hand, could teach us all a lesson. He taught
us that a few words or coins can be a comfort, can
mean facing a human
tragedy square on, can mean “offering assistance to anyone, even those
who look different or act in ways we don’t understand.”
Even the beggars on West Broadway.
(276 words; first draft by Brad Hyde)
The following is a co-written essay for
Attitudes toward Disabled People,
responding to The Globe and Mail article, "In among the ordinary, a
sudden universe of grace," by Solange de Santis.
Attitudes towards Disability
When we read the
article, "In among the ordinary, a sudden universe of grace," we felt
disturbed and thoughtful. Something about disability bothers us
and though we had all experienced it first
hand, we don't often think about it. In
our groups, we discussed a number of important and interesting issues.
One thing we
talked about was that becoming disabled can be difficult for the victim
and for the family. For example, one of the student's fathers-in-law
had a stroke and was paralyzed on one side of his body. He was very
angry about it and refused to speak to others in his family. If someone
tried to help him with eating his dinner, he would say,
"I'm not hungry! Leave me alone!" As a result, other family
members would avoid or ignore him. The attitude of the stroke victim
made life even more difficult for him and his
Another thing we
talked about was the differences and similarities in
the treatment of people who have a disability in Canada
and other countries. In China, for example,
society has different attitudes about access. In Canada, many buses have
a lift; in China, however, very few have the same capability. In both
China and Canada, officials talk about equal opportunity for work for
disabled people. The models are good. However, in both countries the
practice is far behind the words, and many more disabled people are
unemployed than able-bodied people. Thus, we found that we are both
similar and different in our treatment of disabled people.
In addition, we
discussed how people can be indifferent and cruel to those who have a
disability. One student mentioned a young woman with a mental disability
who lived in her neighbourhood in Russia. People would laugh at her and
children were even crueler. The kids would touch her, tease her, and so
on. Eventually, she was sent away to an institution. She was in and out
of the hospital and one day became pregnant. Soon after, she disappeared;
no one paid any attention to what had happened to her.
Indifference and cruelty are worldwide problems
for disabled people.
covered a broad range of ideas in our discussions about disability. It
is important to pay attention to this issue. Although many of us give it
little thought, all it takes to become disabled is to
take one bad step at any Vancouver intersection.
—404 words (including title). Note
the relative size of the body paragraphs and how the introduction and
conclusion are shorter by about 50%.
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