The crowds are a loaded pincushion
that pricks me as I lean into
the human tide. The rotunda’s marble
smells like forgotten marigolds
left to dry under fluorescent tubes.
Chris Cooper visits the AWP book fair
and for a moment everyone vaporizes—
everyone’s body seems to dematerialize—and all
that’s left are glossy, artsy covers and a hushed
suspension of subscription spiels.
But my daughters can’t be quiet. They want
to tell Mr. Cooper they loved his movie October Sky.
They want to explain how much they understand.
They want him to know they know
who he is so he’ll know who they are.
What he wants to know
is whether they liked The Muppets
(which they did), and then everyone’s bodies
rematerialize exactly where they’d been before.
The trick of time performs itself. We stand
in a hall of dark mirrors staring
at the reflections of other people
where we, ourselves, should be. Then no one
says anything or sees anything. It is a coup
of kindness unfolding. The tables gossip
and chitter in language all their own. They steal
our happiest souls. They regenerate from the tiniest
of roots. The editors dine on despair, and their journals
will swarm toward our houses four times
a year if we promise to act entertained.
Margot Schilpp was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1962. She is the author of three volumes of poetry: Civil Twilight , Laws of My Nature, and The World’s Last Night.