Etobicoke by Elana Wolff

Poem name: Etobicoke  Poet name: Elana Wolff  Poem begins: There’s a grainy sadness to going back. Childhood  buildings now torn down. Casualties of growth.  Like a favourite toy, its nose lopped off.  You want to keep it anyway—swaddled in a box  and stowed in the basement. Take it out from time  to time to look at the hole in the face. I wonder  if I understood what drew me to that blank.  Most of what I did I didn’t measure and didn’t tell.  Sometimes I would walk a child from the building   around the block. Down to the muddy river,  past the culvert, under the alders. We were children  left to ourselves. He, a boy with roomy eyes,  a runny nose that glistened into his chin. I, like a sister,  tried to make him laugh. “Etobicoke,” I’d whisper  gently into his small soft ear. He’d smile and say,  “Again.” “Etobicoke,” I’d say again and again. Around  the block and down to the river and back. Maybe  even today somewhere he smiles from the depths  of memory—whenever he hears that name,  made into an unassailable trace. Conjuring an earlier,  purer past. Place where the alders grow: Wadopika  in Ojibwa. A language neither he nor I would know.  End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Elana Wolff  Previously published by Ekstasis Editions, 2021.  Elana Wolff lives and works in Thornhill, Ontario. Her poems and creative nonfiction pieces have appeared in Canadian and international publications--most recently in Arc (Awards of Awesomeness), Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Canadian Literature, The Dalhousie Review, Grain, The Pi Review, Sepia, Vallum, and White Wall Review (forthcoming). Elana’s collection, SWOON (Guernica Editions), received the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry. Her collection, SHAPE TAKING, is newly released with Ekstasis Editions.