This week’s poem invites us into a scrap of conversation about the “old days” in Maine – and a reflection on the urge to romanticize them. The poem’s speaker invokes Leo Connellan, a poet who was born in Portland, raised in Rockland and dedicated to poetry that celebrated the Everyman, including lobstermen and fishermen, with rough-and-tumble realism. I love how deftly this poem moves from conversation into internal thought, and how it ends with a leap to a line that’s at once homage, metaphor and beautifully clear, visceral image.

George Drew is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently “Pastoral Habits: New and Selected Poems,” “Down & Dirty” and “The View From Jackass Hill,” winner of the 2010 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, all from Texas Review Press.

Speaking of Maine
By George Drew

Rockland. Glen Cove. Strawberry Hill.
It’s all still there, and Leo Connellan too,
around this corner and that. He’s everywhere.
Across from me her eyes went dark and sad.
Yes, she said, and No. Everything has changed.
None of these places are the same.
She doubted Connellan would even know them.
Maybe, but what was that trembling in her voice?
That downturn at the corners of her mouth?
This couldn’t be, I thought. It couldn’t be
nostalgic waxing of such a hardscrabble time,
of a time pinched and held together like
lobster traps by such a cheap pot warp place
as Rockland, at least to hear Connellan talk.
Speaking of Maine he says we always love
new snow until it melts, revealing what’s below.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Speaking of Maine,” copyright © 2020 by George Drew. It appears by permission of the author.


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