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I Grew Up
by Lenore Keeshig-Tobias
i grew up on the reserve1
thinking it was the most
beautiful place in the world
i grew up thinking
“i’m never going
to leave this place”
i was a child
a child who would
lie under trees

watching the wind’ s rhythms
sway leafy boughs
back and forth

and rocking me as
i snuggled in the grass
like a bug basking in the sun

i grew up on the reserve
thinking it was the most
beautiful place in the world

i grew up thinking
“i’m never going
to leave this place”

i was a child
a child who ran
wild rhythms

through the fields
the streams
the bush

eating berries
cupping cool water
to my wild stained mouth

and hiding in the
treetops with
my friends

we used to laugh at teachers
and tourists who referred to
our bush as “forest” or “woods”

“forest” or “woods”
were places of
fairytale text

were places where people,
especially children, got lost
where wild beasts roamed

our bush was where we played
and where the rabbits squirrels
foxes deer and the bear lived

i grew up thinking
“i’m never going
to leave this place”

i grew up on the reserve
thinking it was the most
beautiful place in the world

1. Which aspect of her childhood on the reserve does the speaker describe?
A. going to school B. playing outside C. reading fairy tales D. hiding from danger B

2. To what does the speaker compare herself?
A. abug B. a tree C. the sun D. the wind A

3. What does the phrase “ran / wild rhythms” (lines 23 and 24) suggest about the speaker as a child?
A. She was difficult to control. B. She was reluctant to grow up. C. She enjoyed chasing wild animals. D. She felt in harmony with the environment. D

4. When she was a child, what word did the speaker use to refer to the land on the reserve?
A. bush B. wilds C. forest D. woods A

5. How did the speaker react to the tourists and teachers?
A. She stared at them. B. She respected them. C. She welcomed them. D. She laughed at them. D

6. What is suggested about the speaker as an adult?
A. She misses her old friends. B. She may feel differently about the reserve. C. She no longer appreciates the beauty of nature. D. She is saddened by the destruction of the environment. D

7. Which literary device is used throughout the poem?
A. rhyme B. repetition C. symbolism D. onomatopoeia C

8. What did the speaker most enjoy about growing up on the reserve?
A. the sense of freedom B. the isolation from others C. the food the reserve supplied D. the visitors who came to the reserve A

9. Which point of view is used in the poem?
A. objective B. omniscient C. first person D. limited omniscient B

In this excerpt, the narrator works in his father’s antique store and has an unexpected visit from Raphaella, a former opponent in high school debates.

by William Bell

Olde Gold Antiques and Collectibles was a narrow, two-storey red- brick building with The Magus, a bookstore, on one side and an espresso bar on the other. The store occupied the main floor, with a showroom at the front, a small office and a workshop out back. Overhead was a stamped-tin ceiling, thick with many coats of paint, and the floor was made of pegged oak planks. There was a cellar, dark and creepy, where the bathroom was and where we stored pieces waiting to be refinished or repaired.

Business was transacted in a time warp: cash only, unless the customer was local; then we would take a check. Each sale was recorded on an invoice, white copy for the buyer, yellow for us, and rung up on a huge ancientcash register with heavy nickel-plated trim. When the big round keys were pressed, labels popped up into a window, showing the amount of the sale, and the contraption let out a ring! that they could probably hear across the street in the library. There was no computer, no credit cards, Air Miles, special offers, coupons or mailing lists, no money-back guarantee.

“Buy it, give us the money, and keep it” was Dad’s retailing motto.

I worked there on Saturdays, opening up at ten and closing at five. I usually had the place to myself. When she wasn’t off chasing a story, Mom would be at home and Dad was usually on the road hunting up treasures at auctions and garage sales. There was a brass bell hanging over the front door that summoned me from the workshop when somebody came in.

I liked the job. There had been a time when I’d had a burst of independence, insisting on a “real job” somewhere outside the family business. I found one, at a department store in the mall. After I’d been there a couple of months the manager told me to follow an old woman around the store and keep an eye on her. She was wearing a ratty old cloth raincoat with a scarf on her head. A toddler, wearing clothes that were too small for him, stood in the shopping cart, pretending to pilot it through the store as his grandmother pushed. I watched the woman pocket a kid-size toothbrush, a comb with a cartoon character head on it, a packet of gum. She got on the elevator and I slipped in just as the door was closing.

“They’re watching you,” I said to the doors. “They know what you’re doing.”

She rode the elevator back down, got off and put all the stuff back. It touched me when she did that. She could have dumped the items on the elevator floor or laid them on a shelf somewhere and walked away. They caught her putting the comb back in the display case. Security had called the cops.

When the manager ordered me to tell Security what I had seen I said, “Nothing.” Red-faced and cursing, he fired me on the spot. When I left the store, the old lady and her grandson were sitting in the back of a police car. I guessed I wasn’t hard-hearted enough for the commercial world.

Anyway, on a sunny Saturday a week or so after the blizzard, I opened the store as usual. Cars hissed past, throwing dirty slush to the edge of the sidewalk, and shoppers walked briskly in the chilly air. Across the street the giant icicles hanging from the eaves of the opera house were turned to crystal by the morning sun.

I put a Mozart CD on the stereo and switched on the electric heater in the shop. Then I ducked into the espresso bar for a double-shot latte, took it back to the shop and put on my apron.
I was working on a replacement slat for a crib bed—an easy job, just a matter of cutting it to length and planing it smooth. It was a slow morning, normal for that time of year. I sold a few pieces of the pottery we take on consignment from a local artisan, and a couple of old medicine bottles. Just before lunch the bell tinkled again.
I brushed the wood shavings from my apron, drained the last of the latte and went into the showroom. Standing in the doorway, wiping her boots on the mat, was Raphaella.

She was wearing a red woolen Hudson’s Bay coat and a floppy white tam1. The cold air had raised a bit of color in her pale skin, seeming to darken the birthmark. She caught sight of me.

“Oh” was all she said.

I couldn’t find my voice. I felt my neck and face flush hot, and something leapt in my stomach.

“I didn’t know you worked here,” she said, pulling off thick knitted mittens.

“Er, we own the place.”

“Oh. Well, that’s great.”

Her eyes roamed the room. Mine stayed locked on her. How many love songs had I heard that said, “She takes my breath away”? Now I knew what that line meant. My legs were numb. My vocal cords didn’t seem to work properly any more. I was painfully conscious of my stained apron and the block plane in my hand.

“You have some nice pieces here,” she commented, running her hand along a maple sideboard.

“Thanks. Dad finds them.”

“I wouldn’t have figured you for the antique type,” she said. “No offence.”

“I refinished almost everything here,” I blurted. “The furniture, I mean.” I shut up before I made another stupid remark.
One corner of her mouth turned up in a half-smile. She touched a water jug and porcelain basin sitting on a pine dry sink, then traced the grain in the wood with her finger. “Nice work.”


I took up my work again, just to keep my hands busy and give me something to do. I knew I’d fidget if I didn’t.

“That’s a beautiful crib,” she said. “It’s a cliché, I know, but they don’t make them like that anymore.”

“They can’t. They’re illegal, considered an unsafe design. But I know what you mean.”

I removed the slat from the vise and ran a bit of sandpaper over it. I had already drilled and countersunk two holes in each end, so I fitted it into place and screwed it down tight. Raphaella watched every move, making me slightly self-conscious, as if she was memorizing each step.

When I put down the screwdriver and took a mouthful of juice, she said, “Are you sure you’re the same guy who was praising logic and reason in the debate?”

“Why do you ask?”
“You love wood.”

She was inviting me to share something I seldom talked about, except to my parents. Before I knew it, I was babbling away as if I’d known her for years. I told her about the pleasure and sense of achievement it gave me to fashion something from a piece of walnut or oak, how I sometimes felt a sort of communion with the wood, how, when I worked, I entered a state of concentration that dissolved my sense of time.

“That’s why, when I’m here alone on Saturdays, I only do simple jobs like this one,” I said. “If I get into a really complicated or delicate project, I lose track of everything else and forget to mind the store.”

She laughed. “I’ll bet you’ve lost a few sales that way.”

“Dad got some complaints there for a while.”

“Have you ever made a piece of furniture from scratch?”

“You mean copies?”

“I was thinking about originals.”
How had she known that was exactly what I wanted to do? When I had time on my hands, mostly at school when the teacher droned on about land formations or family planning, I doodled and sketched cabinets, chests, tables—whatever came to mind, then balled up the paper and threw it away.

“I’m afraid to try, if you want to know the truth.”

Raphaella made no reply.

“I’m scared that if I try I’ll mess up and ruin everything. I sound like a coward, I know.”

She shook her head, but still said nothing.

“My dream is to find someone to teach me to design furniture, then open my own shop one day. I don’t care if I make a lot of money, just enough to get by and live the way I want.”

“Then do it,” she said simply, as if she was commenting on the weather.

I laughed self-consciously. “Yeah, all I have to do is convince my mother. She wants me to Be Somebody.”

“I know the feeling,” she said.

A little later, Raphaella looked at her watch and told me she had to go.

“I enjoyed our talk,” she said at the door.

It was only after she had left that I realized she hadn’t said a word about herself.

10. What does the description of the shop suggest about the character of the narrator’s father?
A. He is devoted to his job. B. He is careful with money. C. He is proud of the narrator. D. He is traditional in his ways. D

11. Why does the narrator take a job in a department store at the mall?
A. He wants a regular pay cheque. B. He dislikes working on his own. C. He wants to earn his own way in the world. D. He wants to learn about modern retail practices. C

12. What do the items taken by the old woman suggest about her reasons for stealing them?
A. She blames society for her situation. B. She cares more about others than herself. C. She worries about her physical appearance. D. She resents paying high prices for trivial things. D

13. How did the narrator’s experience working at the department store change his attitude?
A. He realizes how lucky he is to have a well-paying job. B. He accepts that soft-hearted people are not suited to big business. C. He recognizes that he takes pleasure in being given greater responsibility. D. He learns to appreciate the impersonal nature of his job at the antique store. B

14. Which literary device does the author use to describe the shoplifting incident?

  1. bias B. allusion C. flashback D. foreshadowing C

15. Why does the narrator continue working on the crib after Raphaella arrives?
A. He needs to distract himself. B. He is in a hurry to finish the job. C. He has to make the crib legally safe. D. He wants to impress her with his skill. A

16. How does Raphaella encourage the narrator to confide in her?
A. through polite criticism B. through intense dialogue C. through gentle questioning D. through spirited discussion D

17. Based on her interaction with the narrator, which word best describes Raphaella?
A. critical B. skeptical C. perceptive D. courageous C

18. Which literary term best describes the author’s writing style?

A. satirical B. technical C. argumentative D. conversational D