- Mount Royal
On Fridays at The Study, I chirped the rounded turnsof O Canada at morning assembly, and in DecemberI learned the words to Vive le Vent in another tongueand took them home like something sacredfor my parents to envy and praise.Grocery clerks spoke to me while my mother looked into her purseand waited for my little mouth to translatethe clipped vowels and scraping r’s.On Wicksteed Avenue the neighbors’ kids romped in the back alleyand told me in fuller, throatier French than minethat I did not speak well enough to play with them;my bedroom window overlooked the street and I watched themwith bikes and sidewalk chalk, Miss Mary Mack, things I liked.
In my first grade yearbook photo I am crying, shiny-eyedwith a closed-lipped smile twisted between curly pigtails—the photograph is silver-framed now on the living room mantelin our suburban Illinois home, something we look at every day,my mother’s very favorite. [End Page 254]
ELLEN WADDELL is an undergraduate student in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.