Without Borders

I’ve never liked walls or borders. Much of my work as a teacher, a “preacher”, and a writer focuses on ways to bring together people from different cultures, languages, and points of view.

I’m delighted that Résonance, a curated Franco-American literary journal from the University of Maine’s Digital Commons, published my poem Curling, Before. The theme of Volume 3 was Borderlands: North and South.

A special thanks to Judith Cassidy, a Canadian friend and enthusiastic curling coach. She is an inspiration.

Curling, Before

Back then, folks living on each side of the border used to play the game together.
One sheet of ice between them, a couple of brooms, eight spinning granite stones.

All along Lake Mephrémagog, neighbors would
turn up on a Saturday night, coming from one town or another.

With their grippers and their sliders,
their Anglo-Saxon curses and their tabernaques.

Side by side, they’d curl away the winter, bleak and long.

Inside the clubhouse, les éclats, les blagues, the gentle ribbings, the rise of steam from a thermos of shared coffee.
Under the soft yellow lights, one couldn’t tell a maple leaf from a star, the fleur de lys from a stripe.

Back then, there were no checkpoints. Not really. A sleepy douanier, perhaps. A wave of the hand as Vermonters freely crossed the pines. A nod of the head as Quebeckers sauntered onto Main Street.
Neighbors, emmitouflé or buttoned-up, just walked across
the bridge to cheer each other on.

Maybe they still curl on the Quebec side, or maybe they don’t. Maybe it’s cold and quiet there, dark, like it is here.

Published by

Gabriella Brand

Gabriella Brand is a writer, adventurer, and educational consultant. She can't stop teaching and learning foreign languages. She would like to walk on all the continents (three more to go!). Her husband is extremely patient and her children are, fortunately, all grown up.

8 thoughts on “Without Borders”

  1. Hi,Thanks for mentioning me – an honor. Do you send these to Joyce? If not, I am going to forward it to her. I have already forwarded it to Kathy.When we next talk, soon I hope, I will explain why some of your story isn’t quite true, but I really like what you have written.The idea of the camaradery between the cultures is great to realize actually happens, for those who don’t live near the border. Thanks for sending it.Judy


  2. Gabriella Ton texte me rappelle de bons souvenirs lorsque le samedi soir on se rendait au drive in a Newport Vermont.Pas besoin de passeport,ni de questions.C’etait si simple et agréable. Notre dernière expérience quand on est allé avec le camper en Caroline à été vraiment traumatisante.Ca nous enlève le goût et le désir d’y retourner. Tellement dommage

    Le lun. 26 avr. 2021 4:54 p.m., Gabriella Brand a écrit :

    > Gabriella Brand posted: ” I’ve never liked walls or borders. Much of my > work as a teacher, a “preacher”, and a writer focuses on ways to bring > together people from different cultures, languages, and points of view. I’m > delighted that Résonance, a curated Franco-American lite” >


  3. Beautiful, Gabriella, both your writing and the cross-border “camaraderie,” as Judith wrote (I had first written “neighborliness” but “camaraderie” is a better description). Is there any possibility of also publishing an audio version, so that people like me who do not know much French or how to pronounce it could hear it as part of the story?


  4. I enjoyed this story, Gabriella. You are a person without walls….you share your writing, your ideas, your home, you, with so many of us. I think you appreciate others without walls, as well. Best,Louise


  5. Gabriella, I love thinking about that ease crossing borders. I grew up on a border town, my bedroom window opened to a view across the St. John River to Madawaska, Maine, Doug’s potato country. Our Canadian-American communities, anchored in the mill on both sides of the border, mixed everything–church, junior choir, Explorers, C.G.I.T–even schools, in small ways. The coach of the Madawaska basketball team asked me if I would consider playing for his team. I was too busy–or too small-minded–to work that one out, but my best friend was American from Madawaska. I have a curling poem, but I can’t find it. ( ;


    1. Yes, borders make such little sense. In Switzerland , they would close the border to strawberries from z Italy as soon as the later ripening Swiss berries were ready. It always made me laugh to imagine an Italian strawberry trying to bribe a douanier.

      If you want to change the way your email connects to my website, I think you could just follow me again by clicking the Follow button. Then we could cancel the other email.

      Sent from my iPhone



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