The Poet’s Place

Where does the poet and his poetry fit in the scheme of things?
A question not often asked except by poets
who sometimes wonder at their passion’s gifts
but once in a while an answer comes, at unexpected times
in surprising ways,
inspiring them, like his muse, to write even about
the surprise itself,
so startling its quiet power.

It was nothing more than a small dinner party, close friends
mostly, using any excuse to gather, this time
to bid farewell to one
and welcome another, over the kind of meal
they had come to prize,
roasted vegetables and pork loin lightly seasoned.
It was in this pleasant company that the poet first saw her.

Right away something clicked, drawn to her by who knows what,
her trim figure and short silver hair, or her killer smile,
perhaps or the way she moved or the care she showed,
or something else entirely, at the energy level,
something he felt but could not fathom.
And so he let it go until they touched in a brief hug at the
evening’s end, as they all did, hugs all around,
and there it was again, a subtle current.

Older and wiser now, he let the feeling settle in for the night,
to be processed along with other highs – and lows –
of the day, putting it all in context,
maybe nothing more than the typical foolishness,
an older man wanting to hold onto the youth he’d lost,
a lingering lust for rejuvenation.
Or maybe something at the other end of the spectrum,
something higher, something he’s called to be
part of, in his latent desire to be useful.
Imagine his surprise, when, the next morning, still in his
pajamas but at the computer writing away,
there was a tap at the window.

And there she was, in her blue jeans, orange down jacket
and running shoes,
as big as life, here for a visit!
He, of course, opened the door and welcomed her in.
She was quick to explain: every Tuesday morning she walks
with her friend but this morning
her friend failed to show.
But it wasn’t just that. Over coffee that morning she’d
read his poetry
and journals on his website and enjoyed them.
He gave her the names of Billy Collins and Mary Oliver.
He knew she’d enjoy them as well.

With an intriguing story she had to tell, her Palo Alto days,
living between Stanford and Berkeley in her embroidered
bell bottoms and long hair,
the glorious, arduous island-days of motherhood,
the pain and the growth
stemming from divorce, unplanned and unwanted,
and her thriving life now,
close friends, T-Ball with her granddaughter and cross-country
travel plans,
the hour was soon up and she was on the move
to the next of her appointed rounds.
She left a vivid trail, however, a jet stream of images against a
deep blue sky of settled emotions
which he quickly translated into a poem “Just So You Know”
trying to capture her lively presence and his reaction
and mailed it to her,
not sure what to expect.

Much to his pleasure, she wasn’t embarrassed at all, far from it.
In fact, she wrote ever so generously
that the poem was “simply beautiful”.
“I agree.”, she wrote,
“There is a peculiar sense of things (between us)
and I’m flattered and honored”.
After our morning conversation in my apartment
which had inspired the poem
in the first place, these words:”…our meeting
has lightened, lifted and seemed to confirm my sense of myself…
It’s a though you’ve given me the grounding
I’ve been searching for
and I’m stronger in myself for it.
I had this sense that
we were supposed to connect…”.

So, he asks again what he asked at the beginning,
where does the poet and his poetry fit in the scheme of things?
We just saw it, didn’t we?
The poet was touched and touched another
with his words,
the way it happens to most of us, if it happens at all,
one connection at a time,
the interplay of written words and spoken, and the pulsing
energy at work between,
creating a world where time stands still,
for a moment,
while the shift is made from the dark to the light and with it
a sense of destiny.
The poet and she, it seems, were “supposed to connect”.


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