The Tern from Turner, Maine

Ricker HillOrchards in Turner, Maine

Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine


I was traveling yesterday and so am reposting an earlier post that got dropped from my blog last year as I was transitioning from one server plan to another. During the trip, my mother and I visited an old friend in Topsham, Maine,who turns 100 in August. My mother is 90, and we also traveled to our family cottage at Ricker Hill Orchards, built by my great grandmother Sarah Ricker over a hundred years ago. Not surprisingly, we spent a lot of time talking about the past.

Ricker Hill Orchards, which is still run by my cousins, is located just outside the small town of Turner, Maine, which gives me an excuse for posting this poem by my father about a tern from Turner. My father loved birds and he loved puns, both of which are in evidence here. The poem appears in Lupo’s Fables, a collection of animal stories with startling morals. I can’t figure out the moral to this poem, but I like its playfulness. Use it to brighten your day.

The Fat and Unliberated Female Tern

By Scott Bates

A fat and unliberated female Tern was trying to turn
     through a ternstile
To take a train
To Turner Maine
She was dressed in the very latest Tern style
She turned and turned
She turned in vain
She turned her ankle stomach tail
To no avail
She even turned
The other cheek
She would turn that ternstile
If it took all week
Or all night
Or if she had to turn into a Termite
A Termite had stolen her purse
Things were looking worse and worse
When who should turn up
but a Turnip
Who had always wanted to do a good turn
So he took her in his plane
To Turner Maine
Where they married and lived happily ever after
Until he gaffed her
With a rafter
Until he hit her
With a baby sitter
Until he got her shot
On pot
(Since it was his principle
never to leave a Tern
Until she left him one night to take a little Tern around the bend
A friend
Who had always wanted to do a good turn
Because as he always said one good Tern deserves another
She soon became a Mother
Of twenty-eight
I am here to state
She was done to a turn
She was done in!
Which was as it should have been
Or which is as it should be
Because birds of a feather deserve a Father

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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