The Smallest Things

the smallest things

A Poem in Paragraphs


I got off the 401 at Markham Road today. And I’m so used to this exit now. On mornings which I call the fall but really are still late summer, I hesitantly pass McCowan but know better than to sit in that far right eastbound lane. I have taken this exit for years. I will get to that fork approaching the off ramp and then make my decision. I’ve driven this exit to my reality for so many days. I can decide within a matter of 20 yards, four seconds, which lane to choose. It’s like we don’t even think about the smallest things.


Progress Road still has the McDonalds where we use to wait for McChickens and McFlurries at 2am in cars. Four niggas deep, gleeful that Cube drove a standard and laughing at how his whip rocked backwards every time we had to move up in the drive-thru line. Every time someone else got their order we rocked back before we could move up. Going in reverse on that drive-thru ramp at that McDonald’s in the backseat of that sedan was enough for us all to smile and laugh. We used to be filled by the smallest things. Rest in peace to Cube also.

What does a space really mean?


I slapped my car off of a curb one night because I was hungry. I wanted a mojo burger from this local spot––right now I can’t remember the name. I do remember it was winter and there was light snow on the road and I was stupid and I was fishtailing on purpose.

The next day, I had to tilt my steering wheel all the way to the left just to drive straight. I asked a friend to drive behind me and tell me if anything seemed off. She said, “your car is fucked. It’s like you’re driving straight but the entire body of your car is off its hinges.” I wanted to laugh and make fun of her for thinking that a car had hinges. Why would she say hinges? But my dad saw my car later that night and laughed at me too. I went to get it fixed. My dad said that a ten thousand dollar burger was the most expensive piece of food he ever heard of. I thought that was a clever joke. We used to treat the biggest things like they were the smallest things. I still can’t remember the name of that burger spot. 


None of that matters now. I try to walk more often than drive. And I bought a bicycle a few weeks before my father passed away. I spent a lot of money on it. Seven hundred bucks plus tax is a lot of money for a bicycle. To me. I used to steal bicycles when I was like fourteen, fifteen. Right off of driveways or anywhere else where I deep down thought that people deserved to get their bikes stolen. It was a rush. A really stupid really small one. Always was.


I wanted to write about Markham Road and how so many things have changed after decades of seeing Markham Road for what it actually was. Is. It is now like a bone buried. In my mind’s eye I see the sign of the burger joint that I can’t remember the name of. It  was a spot at the end of this tiny row of stores at Markham and Brimorton. Notice how people from Scarborough always put the north south streets before the east west ones when describing a location? Always. Is that true of everyone, everywhere? Some things are still the same. I know someone will tell me the name of that food spot. Because so much has fallen but so much is still standing. And it’s the smallest things that still matter now. 


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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