Living Off the Grid was Golden and Justified | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Living Off the Grid was Golden and Justified

when you approached me at the meeting’s coffee break
with Powerpoint-weary eyes and said you’d loved
my ice breaker fun facts because you’d seen
the land near Ashville rise into Smoky Mountains.
My solar-powered life reminded you of 

your mother’s Minnesota farm—chickens
and no electricity. I couldn’t stop you. I couldn’t say
you’d mistaken me for the woman two seats down
because at first I didn’t catch this and when I did
it seemed impolite. So I shifted in my heels, 

seized her story as mine, sprang scenes of orange
evening glow around my cozy ranch, the walkway lined
with zinnias and mums—in early fall their blooms overlap—
near a fence where the goat greets me at the gate,
nips at my dress’s corners if I get too close. Further

in the fields, two cows, indifferent except toward the morning
dew which slightly tangs the grass into delicacy. In the house,
just the start of a family—a partner who wakes early
to push-mow the lawn, collects eggs, cracks
them on the edge of an iron skillet with basil

and red onions I can taste as you, in your suit
chatter unaware until you ask me a single question
about the Tennessee border. My thoughts unravel the goat
with the hazy stoned eyes, the subtly yellow mums.
They’re not mine. I live in Pittsburgh where construction 

cones line scrappy streets, intervals of identical yellow steel-beamed
bridges déjà vu my morning commutes, opaque buildings
wreathe a stiff grey-blue sky. We are dampened.
We have two minutes left before more data-driven research,
product breakdowns, how to get people to buy what we sell.

- Kayla Berkey

Kayla Berkey holds an M.A. in English from Duquesne University. She is a poet, a freelance writer, and a member of the Madwomen in the Attic poetry workshops. She works in public health policy, and she blogs about other artists at She lives in East Liberty. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.

Living Dead Weekend at the Monroeville Mall
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