When Katie Drew was 12 years old she memorized Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” The more she recited it, the more she fell in love with his words. She moved a lot as a kid, and Frost’s images of leaf-strewn paths, diverging in the trees, reminded her of her grandparents’ house in Maine.
“New England is a part of me. Maine is a part of me. And, so, Robert Frost is a part of me,” she said.
She carries the poet’s words with her to this day. They’re in her head, they’re in her heart and they are under her skin.
The last stanza of “The Road Not Taken” is tattooed on her ribcage.
“Well, I’m an English major,” said Drew, from the couch in her Portland apartment. “I want to teach English and I’m very in love with the written word.”
She has the final verse of Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” etched on her shoulder, too. It’s the images conjured by his New England voice, that really get to Drew. No matter how far she roams from home, his snowy woods, his bending paths in the undergrowth, are always with her.
“I believe, In New England we are kind of our own culture,” she said. “And Robert Frost speaks to us. He writes about the things we see every, single day. But we just kind of overlook them.”
Petting her cat, she closes her eyes and revels in the imagery from “After Apple picking,” another poem by Frost. I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight / I got from looking through a pane of glass / I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough / And held against the world of hoary grass. / It melted, and I let it fall and break.
She doesn’t have those lines tattooed anywhere on her skin, yet. But there’s still plenty of room, plenty of time.
“If I was twelve-years-old when I first fell in love with Robert Frost I don’t think I’m ever going to stop loving him when I’m 80 or when I’m 90, even.”
This Tattoo Tale is one in an ongoing series of stories behind some Mainer’s most personal, and permanent, artistic statements.