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Michelle Willms 21 UNCLE LÉO OF THE NORTH by Michelle Willms Your mother has brought you up North to see her family and you are allowed to sit in Uncle Léo’s lap because he wasn’t the brother who molested her as a child. Your back feels warm against his chest as Uncle Léo wraps his strong arms around your small frame and talks French into your ear as though you understand him. He doesn’t live with your grandmother, Mémère, like most of your other uncles, but Uncle Léo is always among the habitués that yell your name when you first walk through the door. In the cold waters of a glacial lake, the mirror-top shatters over and over again as you and Uncle Léo stand side by side, casting your fishing lines from the shallows. Uncle Léo wears tall rubber boots that keep his feet dry, but you forgot your boots back at Mémère’s house, so you stand in your running shoes, your tube socks slouching around your ankles below the water’s surface. Uncle Léo’s friend, a man named Chogan, has travelled by boat

from the Abitibi Indian Reserve No. 70. He stands on the sandy shoal beside your mother while she explains to you that many years ago she stood right where you are, and that when she and Uncle Léo were children, catching fish meant the difference between their family eating or going hungry. You feel a tug on your line so you pull hard and then reel up a small perch. Uncle Léo sloshes through the water and reaches for the arching fish dangling from the end of your line. He works his hand slowly down the bait fish’s body, gently collapsing the spikes of the top fin as he might a delicate rice paper fan. After dislodging the hook, he walks to the bank and submerges the fish into a cooler filled with ice slurry and a few beer bottles. When you have caught enough bait fish, you step back onto shore. Uncle Léo grasps your shoulders, guiding your body down to a sitting position. He opens his fishing tackle box

Profile for Scrivener Creative Review

Scrivener Issue 42 - Spring 2017  

Interview: Lieu commun Leonard Cohen Michelle Willms Bryan Sentes MW Jaeggle Thomas Colbourne

Scrivener Issue 42 - Spring 2017  

Interview: Lieu commun Leonard Cohen Michelle Willms Bryan Sentes MW Jaeggle Thomas Colbourne

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