Maya Stein is a poet, essayist, writing facilitator, and itinerant photographer, and the editor of Grief Becomes You. Her work has been published in Huffington Post, Taproot, The Stone Gathering, Prime Number, Little Patuxent Review, and other print and online literary journals. She has self-published two collections of poetry, two collections of personal essays, a series of writing prompt guides, and has maintained a poetry practice, “10-Line Tuesday” since 2005, which now reaches nearly 1,600 people around the world each week. She can be found wandering the back roads by tandem bicycle, searching for the perfect cup of locally roasted coffee, or online at mayastein.com.
This poem was inspired by a set of directions emailed to me by a close friend of my father’s who lives in an adjacent village in Brittany, France. I pared down Ian’s lines (shown first) and then used the framework (and the title) to create a new piece (shown second).
finding your way to Bodieu
I don’t know if it helps, but the coordinates are N 48 2 32, W 2 30 58
Or N 48.042106, W 2.516081, depending on the map. Sorry, I don’t have the video.
The road signs don’t show route numbers. If you get to Trinite Porhoet, you are 6 km too far!
Leave the hospital and turn left. At the roundabout, please mind the daffodils.
Turn right under the old railway bridge. This is a fairly narrow road with lots of curves.
Beware, entry to the village id 30/40 km/hr max. Lots of speed bumps. The same applies
as you leave. After a ⅔ km atop a hill, on the left is a village, Brehlu, hidden in the trees.
Next stop: Bodieu. As the road levels out, you are looking for a small turning left.
Our house is the first on the right with a large green postbox. Into the driveway to be greeted by Loupi.
Glennys is looking forward to afternoon tea.
I don’t know if it helps, but you will know what to do when the time arrives.
Others will give you advice, point you to their own experience. Sorry, there is no video.
Maps are useless. You’ll recognize when you’ve gone too far.
Take a break from your vigil. At the fork of your departure, kiss his forehead.
Remember the sound of the waterfall at the bridge, the weeping willow at the front gate,
the sliding glass door of the village boulangerie. The old cathedral. The cobblestones.
As you leave, you will want to know what happens next, but these things are hidden in the trees.
Later, the plane will level out over the clouds, and you will be looking at an infinity of sky.
This will be one of the many signs, like the large green postbox, where his dog greeted you.
He will be looked after. He will be loved until the end.
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