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Turn Left At The Kalevala School
Deb Tillman


When I give directions, I like to be specific:
The road veers left after that tall dead tree.
Turn right by the church with the red door.
Turn left at the Kalevala School.

I've been giving that direction all my life.
It's the only way to get to Automba,             
Unless you're coming from the other way,
Then you end up at the swim hole in the river.

Don't blink or you'll miss the old village               
After the curve as you pass Sam's place,
Past leaning barns, forgotten farm equipment,
Fresh bales of hay ready for winter.

That was the way to my grandparents farm,     
Past Charlie Spicola's store and Lawler Hall,
The stoic schoolhouse calling from the hill.
The next driveway was theirs.

Remember, when you get to Kalevala,
Now you know where to turn.
Just don't look for the school;
It burnt down in 1975.

© by Deb Tillman.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Deb Tillman grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota and now lives in Cloquet. Recently retired from the local paper mill, she's begun delving into genealogical research—and writing poetry. 




Post New Comment:
This expressive, vividly descriptive poem deeply resonates with me!
Posted 11/16/2023 10:29 PM
Lori Levy:
Love these directions/this poem.
Posted 11/16/2023 01:56 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I am impressed by the natural conversational style of this charming photographic poem. I felt like I was right there on the farm. I like how she used description and history to tell a story directly and honestly. I loved all the lines but especially the surprise at the end: "Just don't look for the school: It burnt down in 1975."
Posted 11/16/2023 11:48 AM
There is something about the images Deb uses that gave me some peace this morning. Thank you.
Posted 11/16/2023 10:50 AM
Very nice piece, Deb . . . poems with a nostalgic touch give us directions to whom and where we used to be.
Posted 11/16/2023 10:15 AM
So much history and life.
Posted 11/16/2023 10:14 AM
Had fun with similar directions when my daughter and I went to her Grandparents home. Even as a young child she understood we turned right by the cows. What fun it was. And such a lovely poem! Thanks!
Posted 11/16/2023 09:44 AM
liz dolan:
Makes me want to visit.
Posted 11/16/2023 09:22 AM
Loved the swim hole in the river!
Posted 11/16/2023 08:18 AM

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