October 13, 2013

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

One of life’s most intimate events is the recounting of a personal dream. In this week’s intimate poem, Christian Barter of Bar Harbor recounts his dream of a ride on a school bus.

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate

The School Bus

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © Christian Barter. Reprinted from “The Singers I Prefer,” CavanKerry Press Ltd., 2005., by permission of Christian Barter. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine poet laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 228-8263.

By Christian Barter

In the dream I was getting on the school bus

from the back of the bus for some reason, only this time

instead of jeers and everyone sliding over

to the aisle-side so I couldn’t sit down, someone said,

“There’s a seat up here, Chris.” It was

next to Mary Jo Stillwell, pretty as she was

in eighth grade, who had slid to the window

to let me sit, and when a kid put me in a headlock

I simply lifted him over my head and set him

in the seat in front of me, said, “Stay there,”

and a little boy had grabbed a little girl

by the hair, only this time I pulled him off

and sat him down, saying, “You don’t ever grab a girl,”

and sat her down, too, and asked her if she was all right.

No one jeered at this, or swore at me,

or threatened my life for disrupting the ways things

were supposed to be on the school bus going to

Mountain View Middle School in Sullivan, Maine –

if that’s even where we were going –

and when I sat back in my seat, Mary Jo leaned forward

in a very serious manner, and I kissed her

as though it were the most natural thing to do

with Mary Jo – short, serious kisses – on that

school bus that was nothing like any school bus I had ever ridden,

that was exactly like every school bus I have ever ridden,

and when she started kissing my neck in a way that tickled,

I woke up exactly in my life.


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