Let me introduce myself. I don’t satchel anything intentionally. It just … “Gotta pick. Gotta go.”
Reach into σάκα ; σ is s ; lug the guts yada yada ∙ I told you we’ll get the bottom o’t ; you’re wise not to believe me.
I turned nine & migrated to French Canada for a season the rest of my existence. I don’t explanation, but no matter, no family drama was on or ; simply had a friend invite and snap! “Bye ! Freeze, fight, fly !” It was early 1960s. To leave the nest, flap wings.
A word re: nomenclature : “French Canadian” during my childhood became “Québécois” in my youth ; Eastern Townships turned into Estrie ; ditto many terms. I lived la Révolution Tranquille : half my Québécois amis turned ; l’autre moitié, pas pantoute. Et moi ? J’étais là.
Picture Yonge & Eglinton (those are streets crossing), in Toronto. No ? I’ll help. Subway, bank towers, trolleys-trucks-&-traffic, graffiti, street vendors, record stores : She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah ♪♫, apartment blocks, all & it all Anglo all your nine living years. Now, without prep, hop into the back of a station wagon, drive six and a half hours east, get out :
« Allô. Ça va ? HANDS GRABBED ME. What ?! Comment tu t’appelles ? My face kissed both sides. Three times ! Pas mal voyage de Tόrontό, eh ? T’as jamais visiter une ferme ? Viens !
Crowds of people saying ___? ____ ? __ ? _ ? _________? Smiles, guffaws, a family get-together. And me ,,, seeing
a vast rising of wooden planks up and up : la grange
sky. mountains ! (Mountains ?)
More than see ∙ smell : a pile of forty cows’s piss & merde
an orchard of gnarled apple trees
either a dog or a wolf : Brandy (no! not ‘Brandy’, Brrahin-dee)
(Where am I ? Parked off a chemin by a grange near some tall érables et une maison, surrounded by vingt-et-un étrangers.)
– T’as tu faim ? Ben oui. Pauvre enfant. Viens. On va manger.
I did not have one French word to proffer who would become my second family. I. Yes I did !
“Bonjour.” Yes. (Oui.) And even, “Je mm, aa, mapple Robert.”
– Robèrt. Bonjour. Moi je m’appelle Madeleine. Bienvenue chez nous. T’aimerais tu d’tarte au sucre ? » Rapid fire.
“Madeleine ?” She repeated it. No matter. Gestures, hands pushing me through a door, into a chair, smiles, food on a dish in front of me did the job. My French-Canadian mother, thirty-something. All this in a maelstrom of jokes, crowds eating, gabbing, names I was trying to memor‿Yi ! this food tasted // different.
You’re not in Toronto any more, boy !


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