It’s because I couldn’t be there, isn’t it?
So I am leaving you and keeping all of your clothes.
And as I enter this dark country called marriage, I know
somewhere it is summer.
I didn’t know how to explain this one,
so I just said it was about sex.
Some of you in this room know what I’m talking about,
I kept dreaming of car accidents,
preparing to leave the East Coast and everyone I loved.
Portland is a very civilized city.
You are one of the nation’s great secrets.
I know that when they say to you
we don’t want those kind of people around
you will say no, because it is right.
Can’t wait to see the poems that come out of this.
Poetry is not dying
and how wonderful you share it with your mother.
I should have gone first.
And what are you doing now?
Source: This poem is comprised of comments the author remembers from poets and writers during their readings in the state of Oregon between 1999 and 2010. Though it was not possible for the poet to remember the author of each comment, some of which were in the form of book signatures, personal exchanges she had with each writer and the writers’ off-the-cuff commentary during presentations, the authors referenced here include Marie Howe, Suzanne Fisher, Joan Didion, Maya Angelou, Dorianne Laux, Robert Pinsky, Tony Kushner and Yusef Komunyakaa.
Jennifer Rollings is a writer living and working in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has previously been featured in Clementine Unbound, Every Writers Resource, WordWrights! and the journal Ardentia. She has also been published in The First Line, and has work forthcoming there again in 2017.