Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I stood at the podium under the stage lighting looking out into a dark expanse, probably filled with faces, but I couldn't make them out. The next time I looked up from my paper shuffling, the auditorium was a bar or cafe, with railroad-style rooms, two or three of them, maybe like the Ear Inn. I shuffled some more, made some humming, hawing remarks to smattered laughter. I found what I thought was Down Spooky, a dark-covered thin book, and opened it, flipping through to find a poem with which to begin. But it turned out to be an anthology I wasn't in. I stopped on a page containing a poem by _______ (an exciting find, if puzzling in the context, though now I can't remember whose it was). More shuffling. Finally I found For Girls and thought, well that's fine, I'll start with those. But I opened to the first poem and the letters swam around on the page. I attempted to recite from memory and made it through the first three poems pretending to read, concealing my trouble with the swimming pages, but by the fourth poem couldn't go on. I looked up to address a confession to the audience, which I spoke aloud. It woke us both, but I'd already forgotten it. I lay awake for 2 hours or so.

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