The Guide

by Donald Berger

So I asked the guide how did you become
a guide and he said, I had
to learn to walk with pants and shoes,
so the first one I watched who was wearing

shoes had a limp so I watched him and walked
with a limp, when I had the shoes
till someone someone else a tourist asked me
What’s wrong with your leg and there was nothing

wrong with it so I started walking without it the limp
Then I got the pants too and started
walking with both of them the shoes and the pants
got better at it started to teach myself

English by saying “May I…?” and repeating
“May I…?” to ask if I could
go with them into the forest got better and better
and learned the species

and wrote them down the species of the birds
I started to watch with my grandfather
who never wrote down the names who wanted
just to know where they were

Born in New York, Donald Berger is the author of three collections of poetry, The Long Time, a bilingual edition in English and German (Wallstein Press, Goettingen, Germany), Quality Hill (Lost Roads Publishers) and The Cream-Filled Muse (Fledermaus Press). His poems and prose have appeared in The New, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Fence, Ironwood, The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, and other magazines including some from Berlin, Leipzig, and Budapest. He has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, has taught at the University of Maryland and Montgomery College, and currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University.


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