In the poem "Woodtick," what event is the daughter experiencing?
This is the poem
The spring day the teen on his bike slanted his caucasian eyes
At my eight year old beautiful daughter
And taunted gibberish
I was eight years old and the Japs were
Enemies of Canada and the big white boys
And their golden haired sisters who
Lived in the ghost town of Slocan
Were walking together, crowding me
Off the path of the mountain, me running
Into the forest to escape
Into the pine brown and green lush dark
And getting lost and fearing woodticks
Which burrowed into your scalp beneath
Thick black hair follicles and could only be
Dug out by a doctor with hot needles--
Fearing sudden slips caused by melting snow
And steep ravines and the thick silence of
Steaming woods and cobwebs, so listening
For the guiding sound of their laughter
To lead me back to the path and
Following from a safe distance unseen
Till near the foot of the mountain
Then running past faster than their laughter
Home, vowing never to go again to the mountain
Alone--and Deidre whispers to walk faster
Though I tell her there are no
Woodticks in Saskatoon.
1 Answer | Add Yours
The narrator's eight-year-old daughter, Deidre, is being teased by a Caucasian teen-aged boy because she has the slanted eyes that are an Asian racial feature. Her mother, the narrator of the poem, is walking with her as the boy passes on his bike, and attempts to reassure her daughter that there is no need to walk faster.
The mother is remembering when she was eight years old, during World War II, when persons of Japanese heritage were considered the enemy in Canada. Caucasian teen-aged boys and girls teased her because of her race, scaring her so that she ran into the woods to escape them.
Instead of finding sanctuary among the trees, however, she faced the fear of "woodticks which burrowed into your scalp beneath thick black hair follicles and could only be dug out by a doctor with hot needles." Terrified of that possibility, the narrator had to listen for the voices of her tormentors in order to find her way back out of the woods so she could run home.
Flashing back to the time when she was the object of the prejudice, she now unconciously reassures her daughter by explaining "there are no woodticks in Saskatoon" - a comment that was irrelevant to the actual situation, but reflected traumatic memories.
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