Excerpt from “The Real Maine”

part of a long prose poem I’m writing re my life in Maine…

 

“But I knew too how people got hurt and got hard

In these northern towns.

Many were starved

Got fat, drank, smoked

I saw starvation behind meanness,

Learned it myself.

Learned aging, deafness, how to be valueless,

One of the crowd.

Learned to be among the poor at

the IGA supermarket, or Walmart

The old men dragging oxygen tanks,

The fat single moms in wheelchairs.

I learned to love

The sort of  people I fled as a girl

I learned down to bone.

 

I learned delight

I turned for love to the black river,

The andromonous sturgeon, hidden in the depths,

The eagle, osprey,

The night heron

Who stood still in the Stream,

Intent, oblivious to the town.

The back yard fisher who killed the cats,

Deer, weasel, raccoons

All the hidden creatures who eked out quiet lives

Beneath a crust of snow.

 

I came to adore all manner of birds,

Finches who came back to the trellis above the door in spring,

Two robins who stared sadly at a fallen nest

As I buried the children

I learned the crystalline life of stars,

Learned the free and frugal life,

Learned how to look up from streets

To see great symphonies of birds

Diving and flying silently above me

Learned out of need to see

The hidden treasures of the world.

 

My hearing grew poor,

I shifted emphasis.

I placed my contacts in eyes,

I placed my aids in ears,

I allowed the world to declare itself

with trumpets and clarity each day,

As I, renewed, again heard, again saw.

With joy I  listened to wind,

Saw yellow bullfrogs in their pool

by the trail,

Observed the movement of crows,

Their sentinels and rites.

Their parliamental discourse

I taught myself to spot iron in wood,

To pick berries, pick up kindling,

Gather birch bark,

Make fire starters from pine cones, Vaseline, and lint.

I raked the roof, shoveled the deck,

Got stuck in the driveway

Got out.

Knew I would survive…”

 

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