Hans’ Song

© Maria Dunn, 2010

Along with Flora and Bedrock, Bedroll, Hans’ Song was written for the One Room project, inspired by Sharon Nolan's photographs of people living in Edmonton's inner-city rooming houses in the 1980s.

***

Quarter past three on a winter’s day
I think of my sister in Norway
And I wonder: where do I belong?
All my life been singing that song

So long, been on my own
So far from feeling at home

I came here a young man in ‘24
To the restless, the west is a wide open door
And I helped build the roads in this town
Made my way by sweat of my brow

Now this icy pavement’s my enemy
I’m nearly blind, stiff in the knee
Thank god Frank stops in for a while
With a cigarette and a smile

When the crash hit in ‘29
I knew it was over, I knew it was time
And I headed home to Norway
But everything had changed

My father he looked me up and down
Saw a labourer's hands, calloused and brown
Not a young man sculpting a dream
I felt shame: how meagre it seemed

So long, been on my own
So far from feeling at home

I couldn’t give up the memory
That girl who served at the bakery
When the hard times were done
She’d return from Saskatchewan

She’d walk with me on the roads I’d built
With her jaunty air and her hat atilt
She would be my anchor here
But now it’s been years and years

So long, been on my own
So far from feeling at home

In my tidy room, I’ll bide awhile
Though my mind wanders many the mile
Even if I crossed that northern sea
Who’s left to welcome me?

Quarter past three on a summer’s day
That river might be the reason I stay
In it’s valley lush, you can walk & forget
That you’d ever a single regret

***

Maria Dunn vocal, accordion
Shannon Johnson violin
Jeremiah McDade guitar
Solon McDade upright bass