At the Poetry Reading
I ask her to sign on page 41,
the one she read while the red bird flapped
against the bookshop window. Framed
by grayness and raindrops, it disappeared
amid her beautiful words. She read
of waking restless after a storm,
of clouds becoming music, creatures
who sing their way through city streets,
beardtongues talking in pentameter
to autumn roses who listen, in bloom.
I’m lost in her technicolor world,
wake to another thump on glass,
the lingering smell of reheated coffee,
an awkward woman who talks and talks
of poets she has known, awards.
Where are her songs and flowers? I’m stuck
inside a crowded little shop
stuffed with too many tiny antiques
and need to get out of the dusty place
before her images disappear.
But tractable, tame, I wait in line,
chat as lightning flashes outside.
When my turn comes, her purple ink
soars across the pristine page,
swoops and swirls, circles words:
“lust” and “body,” “erotic grace.” *
She smiles, returns the book to me,
and something shudders between the boards.
I leave in the dark, search through the rain
for feathers that glitter under a window.
by Jerry Krajnak
*Poet’s note: The poem is “Dream of Lust.” The awkward poet was not Louise Gluck.
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem perfectly describes both the sublime joy and the frustrating awkwardness of a poetry reading.