#207 After the Poets Talk
Matilda’s voice sounded like summer rain falling after a long hot dry spell. Hearing her recite her poem in my English class relit my fire. I didn’t listen to the words that flowed from her dainty lips. All I heard were the raindrops falling on my heart. I decided then I had to have her for my own.
But she’s a poet, I told myself. To me listening to poetry is like standing under the El-tracks while a train goes around a curve and emits a loud penetrating screeching sound that goes all the way to one’s soul. But that’s not what I told her when I finally gathered the courage to speak to her. I said, “Poetry is like a melody playing in a breeze, a light in the sky that blends into a rainbow of sound, and a sweet spring rain mixed together like spumoni.”
She looked askance at me. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to speak to her in a poetic tone. I couldn’t help myself when I gazed into her eyes and continued. “When I look at you, I see beauty never before seen, spoken about, or heard of. It appears in colors of chartreuse, purple, and red.”
I wondered if I should have added another color or two to stroke the poem so it wasn’t too bright, or tone down any glaring words before I recited phrases in a language even I could understand. Or should I have spoken as a poet speaks and used some abstract anecdotes picked from a pile of throwaway words?
I could hardly believe the beauty so many people saw in poetry. It used phrases and verses not spoken in any tongue, words only poets heard, so how could I know what they meant? As hard as I tried, I couldn’t make any sense of metaphorical styles. How could I know what they connoted if I could only guess?
Her words astounded me when she said, “I give you credit for using an original pick-up line, but that’s all you’re going to get from me. I can see you’re one of those common folk who don’t see beauty in our world and only wants to take what pleases you.”
“That’s not true,” I pled, “I see the beauty surrounding you.”
She laughed. “You only see what you want to see. If you saw the real me, you’d run away.”
“That’s not true; give me a chance to prove that I’ll love you no matter what the real you is like.” 57
I was going to fall to my knees to beg when she smiled and said, “Okay, come home with me.”
I tried to think of a poem to impress her, but clunky words were practically all I knew. I followed her up the stairs and into her apartment where four more girls just like her sat at a long table with forks and long, sharp steak knives in their hands.
“Ah, I see you brought dinner,” one of them said.
I turned around to look, but there was no dinner to be seen. It was then I realized they were all looking hungrily at me. I turned and tried to run, but Matilda was stronger than me. They tied me tightly to the table and lit some candles for illumination.
“He may be a bit tough,” Matilda told the others as she passed out dinner plates, “He’s full of awful words, but if you come across one, why just spit it out.”
poetry > short story