A night at the Writers House

The aged poet spits his lines
as if words are foreign objects in his mouth,
unpalatable sounds ejected;
Word after word drawn from his mouth
like loose hairs unwound from the tongue.

The poet's voice, still strong,
carries through the podium to the floor,
where an albino spider vibrates in its web.
The fragile white body goes up and down
in rhythm with the poem.

Occasionally, the flesh of my upper arm
is pinched between tops of the tightly packed chairs.
My mind wanders to outside noises,
people's shoes, the undeciperable relationships
among those in the audience.

Backlit window panes behind the poet's head
frame individual dioramas:
students with backpacks walking their bikes,
hurrying by, single file, driven by some inner purpose;
each small window a television, moving picture, microcosmos.

The poet's words become a chant in another language.
I lose concentration and coast.
But when the evening ends, I drive home
with a poem lingering --
an aura of the night's events, like a halo, circling above me.

Pat Green