Voices on the Wind
AIRPORT ENCOUNTER WITH THE POET
by Cappy Love Hanson
No, Iím no one you should recognize, just one
of the crowd whoís come to hear you read
a smattering of times over half our respective lives.
First time, in a disturbingly meager small-college
audienceóa publicity foul-upóyou renowned
already, arriving in a hotel shuttle. Last time,
The Great Man, chauffeured to the thronged
auditorium in the sponsoring foundationís
Land Cruiser that probably never climbed
anything wilder than an urban curb.
That first time, I hesitated behind the crush
of autograph seekers, clutching what I still believe
the best of your many books, nothing to offer
but gratitude I didnít think would balance
the scale by half. You reached between strangers,
grasped my hand, and towed me forward, thanked me
for maintaining eye contact, so the audience
didnít look entirely like womenís rapture-shuttered
eyes and working jaws, the tops of menís balding
heads, the undersides of unshaved chins.
See how Iíve toted my astonishment
all these years like an airline carry-on, sucked
a kind of second-hand adequacy from it. Now
itís you to your plane and I to mine. I wish you,
for your long-ago and unremembered kindness,
immortality beyond that of your poems.