Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The School Bus

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

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.

The School Bus 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.

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 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.