Mary Lou Buschi (poetry, ’04) recently spoke with SWARM magazine:
Brandon Amico: What was the germ that brought “Scouts” on, the little thing that set the writing of this poem in motion? And is the final product a combination of memory and imagination, or does it sit solely in one of those camps (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun)?
Mary Lou Buschi: In truth, I was never a Girl Scout. I only made it as far as the Brownies. The girls were mean and I hate uniforms and groups that follow rules or recite pledges or prayers, so even as a little kid I knew it wasn’t for me. The penultimate moment, when Helen puts the corsage in her mouth, was a moment of absolute disgust told to me by a friend who did make it into the Girl Scouts. I found her disgust really interesting so I followed the instinct to write the poem. I also felt that her fear/disgust was closely linked to the speaker of “In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop. Although the speaker in “Scouts” denies any likeness to Helen, she remains “other,” safe in her 8 year old self. So, to answer your question the poem is imagined.
Mary Lou Buschi is the author of The Spell of Coming (or Going) (2013, Patasola Press).