Nov 27, 2020

Today’s poem is “Signage” by Gretchen Berg. Gretchen is a performance artist/educator and writer. She is the lead teaching artist for Portland’s Side X Side, works in rural Maine schools through the Local Stories Project, and teaches performance courses at Bates College.

She writes, “I collect fortunes and I love driving around, especially around Waterford where I first lived when I moved to Maine in the 70’s. The drive in this love poem is (pretty much) for real & the signs along the way mark and foretell my life.”

by Gretchen Berg

The wallet resting on the back seat
of my brown VW was full of little white paper slips.
Not advice (In the dance of life choose partners wisely)
Not observations (To remember is to understand)
But real fortunes: You will attend a party where strange customs prevail.

We were still new when
I drove to show you my old towns.
In Bridgton we stopped to get peanuts and beer
at Main Street Variety with the neon Italians sign in the window
where I first stumbled off the bus from Virginia,
stood in the slush, saw that sign
and was struck by the owners’ ethnic pride.

Up the hill past the Waterford town beach
was Thickly Settled where I saw Grandpa’s glass
of Metamucil, Frost Heave I pronounced
like an Icelandic truncated heaven,
Slow Deaf Child where I honked at the kid on the bike.

This drive was long before
we were thankful in London
to Look Right and Mind the Gap.
Today it’s windows down, a few black flies on the windshield
and clear enough to see Caribou Mountain.
As I downshift on the Sweden Road
my right arm brushes your left arm.
Soft Shoulder
Hidden Drive.

Poem copyright © 2016 Gretchen Berg.