Postcard from Allentown, PA

I read poetry and creative non-fiction last night at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The auditorium was packed, students and faculty bought books, and there were plenty of excellent cookies. All I could think about (under my shirt) was the call to gratitude. Thank you faculty of Muhlenberg for inviting me to read my work and visit your students and colleagues. I am a poet, and I live in what Auden called “the cave of making” and it’s a lucky thing to be invited out of the moisty and circumspect darkness of one’s study and into the light of community. I was favored to be here these past two days. Fortunate to have conversations with teachers and students about the social construction of normalcy; the fact that disability is still a pejorative word; that I prefer “citizen” to disability—we are citizens, forget cultural taxonomies; grateful to be reminded while speaking that Garcia Lorca invented an arsenic lobster to explain the horror of modern New York City; that Ariel Dorfman and Stanley Elkin have written vividly about the deleterious soul crushing “thing” we call Disney; that poetry still resides in our wrists and hands as much as our skulls. And I met a vast and beautiful survivor elm tree where hawks live. And I met a legally blind student who is looking for words. Met a young woman with her fist service dog! Received the gift of poems about baseball! I admit it! I am like the child who sings: “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” Soul clap your hands and sing. And yes, godammit, the world is ugly and the people are sad, and the ghost of Bethlehem Steel clanks up the streets of Allentown at night, moaning at all hours, still not satisfied with the work of human destruction it achieved in life, and yet, there is a delicate pipe stem beauty, a sweet chill of recognition, a student admiring the visiting writer who has cold hands from shyness, and there’s a delicious apple on the desk. And poetry is still a word temple.

 

3 thoughts on “Postcard from Allentown, PA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s