Going to Great Village

Nick Norwood
Featured Image: Golden water meadow © A. Anupama 2017

after Elizabeth Bishop

 

You never knew the sea
could hide behind that row
of white frame houses till
you jostled down a track
parting water meadows.

There she blew: Minas Basin.
Flat, wide, lavender-red
as a river in Texas. And still
just hard to believe. Maybe
salt and cold, but not clear.

All over town, the strong
sweet smell of fresh-cut hay,
a soft incessant screaming—
horseflies—and no one saying
anything about poetry.

You had to ask some woman
unloading a station wagon
which house it was (“That one,”
meaning the nondescript tin-
roofed frame across the road),

then see the brass tchotchke
on the church’s front door
and the cluster of plaques
with photos at roadside
showing the filling station

opposite the house was
once an Esso. Be short-
changed there, unawares,
and have the young cashier
run out in controlled panic

to pay you back two dollars,
saying, “So sorry!” Then
you had to leave the way
you came—coast road—to get
to Antigonish, late.