Poet Fever

(16-24 November 1992) after John Masefield

I think I’ll walk downtown to the bookstore with the coffee shop, and I’ll stop along the way to note the appearance of the streets. One seldom takes the time one needs to expand beyond one’s private life, but with pen and paper, and a place to sit, I’ll send my quiet tendrils toward the light. In the light of the window, others’ lives are more important than my own. In the light of the window, business as usual is always new. With a pot of tea, I’ll nurse my impatience into a dream of quickness. In the light of the window, I’ll pick up another poet’s book and open it beyond the space reserved for others’ poems. At the coffee shop, I’ll be completely safe. No one will ask me to wash the dishes. On the way home, I’ll stop on each corner and walk in the opposite direction of the first car that passes. If I happen to be at a bus stop, I’ll take the bus wherever it goes. Will I be directing this movie? Very well— I won’t need to follow the script. How could I be late when I’m working for myself? How could I be lost when the world is my home? How could I be inconvenienced when I’m carrying my own pen and paper? If I get hungry, I’ll stop to eat. If I get sleepy, this will be no time to dream of comfort and old men’s yarns. On the long road, there are many rest stops, but few visits where one takes the time one needs. Everywhere else, one is on one’s way to somewhere else, everywhere else, there’s someone over one’s shoulder, but at the bookstore with the coffee shop, I’ll stay in the light of the window, until the light disappears. Or until someone comes to take my place— an old man whose story can be read in his face, more interested in others than in himself, unafraid of taking a bus wherever it goes, unworried about seeming to be less than he is. He has a higher job to do— honesty in pursuit of truth.