The Father got some boys in the wood shop to cut six holes in a sheet of plywood, one at each corner, right and left, top and bottom, one square in the middle at the bottom, and one in the centre top. I practiced shooting the heavy rounds of pipe at each of those holes. I worked hard at that. I practiced until I could feather the steel through each of those gaps. Then Father Leboutilier started calling out the holes to me.Read more: Literary Hub
I’d sail a ring of pipe through that hole. He’d roll it back, then call out another hole. My shots grew pinpoint accurate and fast off the stick. When we switched back to regular pucks, the rubber was a blur.
The other boys got wind of what I was doing and showed up to watch. Eventually they joined in and we held tournaments. Each hole had a point value and we each took twenty shots. The one with the highest points won. I went through the end of that summer and the fall undefeated.
And in the gathering gloom of those evenings we all grew closer. I ceased to be the Zhaunagush. I became Saul Indian Horse, Ojibway kid and hockey player. I became a brother. I basked in the glow of this regard. In our laughter, teasing and rough camaraderie, I found another expression of the spirit of the game. We’d head back to the main building for the evening meal, jockeying, nudging, poking each other. Wrapped in the aura of freedom that the game offered us, we’d grin at each other over the hash and skimpy stews. Brothers. Joined by the promise of steel blades forming swirls in snow and ice.
Monday, April 23, 2018
An excerpt from Richard Wagamese's novel, Indian Horse. Wagamese (1955-2017) was one of Canada’s foremost writers, and one of the leading indigenous writers in North America: