Who Could Rise in Flame - November 25, 2020
An ordinary woman who could rise in flame,
You spoke to us, not ordinary at all.
I think your hair was down,
I think you wore glasses,
Your voice picking us all up,
Picking us apart, lighting us on fire.
You read to us.
And you told us how to (mis)pronounce your name,
Laux, rhymes with fox, you said,
Though you guessed at the lost frenchman’s way
Of speaking your last name.
And you listened to our questions,
The questions of 20 year olds,
So much still waiting out in our futures.
And you spoke with us later, patiently, one on one,
Your words sometimes searing, touching
Subterranean spots we did not know about ourselves.
You signed my book, and smiled at me.
“Keep writing,” you said. “I like your nails.”
And something else about my hair that I can’t recall.
I want to believe it was a compliment. I want to believe
Somehow you knew me,
But also I want to tell you that I have continued to write
And that I often think of that evening,
The hall we gathered in,
The way you gathered us in
And how lucky to have chanced into Dr. Asarnow’s classes,
And Dr. Askay’s classes,
And Dr. Orr’s classes,
Or maybe not luck.
Maybe those were always out in my future, now many years past,
Waiting for me to arrive.
And how can words spill out, a bright gold wave,
Lunging from a poem, a song, a person,
Out of time, out of a place, leaping and pulling meaning along with them
Lighting us ablaze, creating---what?
An ordinary woman. You spoke to us,
A match, our minds fast gas, no airlock, every nerve on fire,
And what else is waiting out there?
Two weeks from right now?
I wanted to tell you that I kept writing.