Hidden Treasures / 10
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2017 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2017 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2017, “Secret Places, Hidden Treasures” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library.
Here we present the second of the two Grade 10 students tied for first place.
TENTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | WESTMOUNT HIGH SCHOOL
The Cowichan River is a place imbued with magic.
I see fae,
Sprites and Nymphs emerging from the woods.
My step-father says I have an active imagination,
My grandmother warns me to never step into a circle of mushrooms.
And always keep an object from our world in my hand.
My mother tells me countless times,
She loses me if we are near the river and she looks away for a moment.
As a dewey-eyed, red-cheeked girl,
I am drawn to water, to the rocks.
They find me half- submerged, wading, pockets weighed down with dripping rocks.
Muddy, stockings ripped, smile wide and head full.
I collect stones from the banks of the Cowichan River
Not because they are valuable or unique,
But because they make me feel real.
They keep me rooted, they matter to me,
Negate the weightlessness.
I find my mother’s phone, bursting with texts from a number I don’t know,
Sweet nothings and disgustingly sugary words oozing from the screen,
It makes my heart ache, it makes me suspicious, angry, scared, sad.
I slam the door to my room so hard a box of pebbles falls off my shelf,
And chase one another across the floor.
I sleep in a tent in the yard for a month.
I weigh down the corners with rocks from the garden,
Not the same smooth, clean rocks that reside in boxes and bags inside the house,
But dirty, crumbling bits that have no meaning to me.
It is cold in the yard, but I am alone in a place that is mine.
I swear I hear animals in the night
Kept away from me by some divine presence.
A god, an angel, my teddy-bear.
I read a book about crystals that my Grandmother gives me for my tenth birthday.
My room is hill of boxes,
Destined for the storage unit.
A book about French vocabulary rests on top of my book of crystals,
Now dog- eared and stained with mud and tears.
We drive to the river almost every’ evening.
Where my sister and I swim.
And I teach her how to skip rocks,
And we look for predictions in the streams.
My mother cries a lot now, and my step-father is quiet,
My grandmother talks so highly of Montreal.
My sister doesn’t yet understand what is happening,
And doesn’t make a hiss when they leave me at the airport.
My world is changed.
There are no more places filled with ethereal feeling,
There is a concrete maze, no longer the forests of my girlhood.
No longer the fresh, clean river.
Or the numbingly cold ocean.
I still collect stones, and treasure them in a way which is unnatural.
Like a magpie.
I return to my mother every summer.
But little of what once was remains.
I haven’t seen my step-father in a year,
And haven’t been to the Cowichan in twice that,
My sister threw my rock collection into the garden three houses prior
So that she could have the box that contained them.
I am returned.
The cold flow of the water around my thighs,
Is a nostalgic kick in the stomach.
I have not felt in so long.
I breathe in an air which I have not tasted in millenia,
The trees sway slightly,
And it may be my eyes playing tricks on me.
But I see faces in the heads of flowers.
Things will never be as they were when I was young.
Because things change.
I bend at the waist, and out of the water I fish
a perfectly smooth rock.
Read also: Secret Places Hidden Treasures /9