Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Summer Reader

Bridget found the Americans
Rather cheeky but amusing,
The way they asked for cold Bud Light
At the pub in their honeyed drawls

(It seemed a bit cliché to say,
Honeyed, but that’s how they sounded),
The way they showed up to her class
With caffeinated beverages,

Water bottles, and crisp packets,
As though lectures were wee snack breaks,
Just sideshows she put on for them.
Well, they were here for the summer,

After all, and most of the dears
Were, what was the way they put it,
So country, that being outside
Of the U.S. for the first time

Was only half their startlement.
Rail service, city life, Scotland—
It was all bemusing to them,
Straight from rural Alabama.

Taking classes was an excuse
For the first grown-up adventure
Of their young lives, and not a few
Had romanced Scots bemused as them.

She knew that, but in the event
She tried to actually teach them.
She was getting paid for a light
Course on Scots poetry and ghosts,

As she thought of it—formally
Titled Scottish Literature
Of the Supernatural—fun.
She had to translate from the Scots,

And Gaelic would be Greek to them,
But it was a bit of a lark.
In fine weather on the last day,
Just before the Fringe was to start,

She acceded to their begging
To hold lecture once on the lawn.
One of the students was just back
From a weekend trip to Lerwick

(All the way to Lerwick! Just so
She could say she’d seen the Shetlands!)
And was excitedly telling
Her girlfriend about a lad there,

While another student who’d gone
As her companion was telling
Someone else, with as much passion,
About a spooky encounter

With a mysterious presence
In the hallways in the wee hours
In the three-hundred year old inn
Where the two of them had booked rooms,

And it occurred to Bridget then
That romance and the uncanny
Were entwined in literature
Because, right, they’re just the same.

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