Je Ne Sais Quoi - Poem by Bill Galvin
Partway down the Maine highway,
Waterville is the town where I met the young lovers,
On the trip of their short romantic life together,
Outside a coffee shop, as we sit at metal tables.
“Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where to get the best pizza here in town? ”
I had heard them speaking in French as they took off their helmets,
And began searching with their smart phone.
“No. I just came off the highway myself, but,
I’m sure the girls working inside are locals; they can tell you.”
“Oh, that’s funny. Sorry.”
I love the accent; always have; the guy is late twenties; urban cool;
Tousled, semi-long, black hair; could make TV commercials.
She’s younger; quiet; along for an exciting ride; longish hair,
Of a color somewhere between iridescent pink and purple.
“Where you guys from? ” “We just come down from Quebec City, off 201.”
I know 201 as the direct,4 hour,2 lane route that ends right here.
This is where you decide north or south of Maine.
For generations, French Canadians have vacationed
On the south coast of Maine.
The towns put up bilingual signs for them there.
Have these kids heard about that all their lives?
Is he reconnecting with a family history, first time on his own?
Does he want to impress with his knowledge of the US?
“We don’t know where we go from here; just driving, ” answers that.
It is Saturday noon. I assume they’re spending the night.
“That is one beautiful machine.” A white Honda.
“Yes. I love it. And it goes.” “What size? ” “800cc V4.”
“Nice. I once had a BSA 600 Lightning. Big and fast for the time.”
“I know that one; made by Triumph. Do you ever think you’ll get one again? ”
“Ah… you never know. But, my friends caution me.”
“You never know.” “That’s for sure.”
“You know, ” I say, “you guys have no plans from here,
You should visit the most beautiful place in Maine.”
“Oh? ”, their curiosity perking like the coffee inside.
Even the girl’s windblown eyes opened a bit more,
As she continued to work cycle seat fatigue out of her body.
“And it’s close. An hour and a half north. Gorgeous drive along the rocky shore.
Plenty of motels, campgrounds.
You can drive up a mountain and see the islands
Up and down the coast. They film car commercials there.”
“Tell me, what is the name? ” “Acadia National Park.” “Acadia Park.”
He looks it up; speaks French to his lady; she nods back.
“And the mountain with the road? ” “Cadillac.”
“Cadillac. I have it.” He shows the phone to her. She nods again.
“I’ve been going there for years. Well worth seeing.”
“Merci. This is so great. Thank you.”
I glance at the pink-haired girl. She glances a thank you back.
Better than riding to nowhere in particular.
“You will enjoy it. Sunset from the mountain, don’t miss that. Have fun.”
They go inside for their coffee and pizza directions.
I climb into the 4 Runner; I’m parked next to their bike;
It is certainly one gorgeous machine.
As I’m leaving, they’re coming back out…
With coffee, with resolve, with purpose and direction.
And I know a place that will have more converts after today.
I throw them a thumbs-up…
And he throws one back.
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