Monday, November 14, 2011

The Berm

The Berm

If I photographed the trees
on the grassy, leaf-strewn land
holding the highway’s hand,

with my lens, I could block out
the unbeautiful elements. The road,
the black and white billboard

that tells us, in caps, Hell is Real,
the H in Hell filled in with dark red,
a jaunty patch on a varsity jacket.

Three times in the last month
I almost parked the car at the side
of the freeway. In my mind,

I see myself leaving the car,
clambering down the berm, the slick
gravel and grass. Wooly mist

drifts through this patch of trees,
a copse, I think, and see the word
wrestle with its lookalike neighbor:

a corpse. I want to stand in
this fractured meadow, and stare
at the fiery leaves leaving their

perches, flinging their orange
bodies at the green ground. The trees are
not dying, just some of their parts.


  1. Love the sentiment, and the feeling in this one, Hannah. I often think that, too...that if the ground and sky could just shed the extra, ugly bits of billboards and wrecked cars and litter that it would give a sort of heaving sigh of relief. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. “leaf strewn land/holding the highway’s hand”—I wonder if I’ll ever again see a berm in the same old, mindless way. Ditto Hell as a “jaunty patch on a varsity jacket.” You really wake us up, Hannah. I notice too that every tercet has some kind of sound play at ends of lines—rhyme, alliteration, assonance, or unnamed connections, as in “trees, word, neighbor.” Impressive.

  3. Lovely. I want to climb down the berm, too, both for the beauty and to yank out the billboard. Forgive me.

  4. Great start to poetry week with you! I especially like that "copse" wrestling with "corpse" section, which pulls us back into the poem's meaning.

  5. Ah, varsity jacket. Awesome.

  6. Beautiful Hannah. Billboards, train rails, back alleys and other ugly sights are what I usually associate with the word berm, now I'll have other associations :).


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