She gives you poetry, as if this important. As if poems will make a difference. She drops Rumi and Hafiz and Mary Oliver into you and thinks nothing of it. She leaves you with William Stafford and Shakespeare’s sonnets. Marge Piercy. Pablo Neruda. Walt Whitman. She shows up at readings and listens, and says nothing, as if there is another life going on inside and it tugs continually. But if you really look at her, you can see she listens to poetry as a sculptor listens to stone, or clay, or papier-mâché – her head tilted and curious and calculating the moments or truth. She gives every poem, no matter the poet, a chance to move her. As if she is able to erase her own concepts and notions – and listen that deeply.
Poetry found her. It would fall off shelves, or out of purses, or cascade down from stacks of books of non-fiction – and she would bend down and pick up the one book of poems – and she would flip thought and stop on page 47, and there would be the poem she needed. As if she opened herself to the possibility of it, and it listened. She would hunker down to pee in the bathroom of some restaurant on the south side and there on the cubicle wall, in black Sharpie, would be the poem she needed for the next ten minutes of her life. Or she would uncrumple a wad of crumpled paper found on some random sidewalk – garbage to everyone but her, and it would be a beautiful, awful, powerful reverberation of a poem. She will not stick around. She’s too goddamned ephemeral, too beautiful for that. She will disappear into the movie of a life that is running in her head. She gives you poems that resonate with love. Poems written by poets you’ve never heard of. They burn fast and hard with desire – these smudged pages, the words scribbled and the vastness of space around them. You try to hold these poems at 2 a.m. and it’s just not the same as her. Not the same thing at all.