Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The Dump Pickers

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Bruce Guernsey of Bethel has appeared twice before in the Take Heart column. Today he offers a group portrait of a family at the dump.

The Dump Pickers by Bruce Guernsey

On Sundays
carting my trash to the dump
I?d see them swarming
the piles like gnats,
a whole family of pickers
straight from Mass:
Dad?s suit, white
as the noon sky, Junior
in a polka-dot tie ? 
in bright, patent leathers
his small, pale sister.
From the highest of piles
Mother shouted orders
through a paper cup,
the men hurrying under
her red, high heels,
dragging metal to the pickup,
the little girl giggling,
spinning on her toes
through the blowing paper
like a dancer, a little twist
of wind in the dust.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Bruce Guernsey. Reprinted from Rain: Poems, 1970-2010, Ecco Qua Press, 2012 by permission of Bruce Guernsey. 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 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.