a touch of envy there, no doubt
implying a comfortable life,
a smart careerist, older poets youthfully
cultivated, poems in the right magazines,
editors gently kept in touch with;
keeping on the right side of his peers,
‘interesting’ reviews of their poetry skilfully woven,
professional favours quietly exchanged;
academic posts gracefully filled, and
moved on from; leaving grateful ex-students
recommended for the vacancy;
and an acquired ability
to write just enough, but not less;
so it should be rather, a lifelong devotee of poetry,
and when he started to read to us I felt mean
for assuming him to be some artificial thing
a professional poet;
I wanted to inhabit his poetry, the
house of his poetry; but some doors
to rooms were open, some were shut;
would I give the time to find and love the key?
He read his own poems
as if they were step-children –
proud to show them off, and yet, not really his;
the audience, taken aback by this,
hesitated to applaud.
But when he read the poems of others,
he read them as though they were miracles
to stun and to admire, yet he was, we were, barely worthy of;
dropping as fine mercy, as the gentle dew of heaven; he read like
an amateur would read the great, in awe; as –
a lifelong devotee of poetry. He shone.
In each of us, a poet was born and lived.

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