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Terreson Profile
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What makes making poetry worth the lonesome effort

Six years ago, I know it was six years ago because it was before Hurricane Katrina, I made a poem called The Girl Next Door. The poem is drawn on a neighbor, a painter who lives across the walking alley from me. I am including the poem here. So there is no need to describe her. It is all there. I have wanted to give her a copy of the poem and I haven't had the courage to do so. We've lived as neighbors for almost ten years. Apartment living is always, almost uncomfortably close. Great tact is required in order for such neighbors to respect space. Besides, I learned a long time ago it can be dangerous business giving a woman a poem. Consequences almost always unintended. Also, I was afraid she might think me some kind of weirdo, some kind of voyeur.

For Thanksgiving I left town, gone a week. Day before I flew out I saw R. step out her back door, called down to her. Walking to her fence line I gave her the poem, told her she had incited it, hoped she wouldn't think I am some kind of wierd neighbor. She got excited, said she wanted to read it immediately. As immediately I turned on my heels, walked back up the stairs, damn near sputtering in my retreat.

When I got back to town it was late on a Saturday night. On my door there was taped an envelope. I knew it was from R. On the back of the card she wrote:

~Thank you so much for appreciating me & all of my glory of movements -
I love the poetry and I appreciate you for writing my life (my life underlined) in your eyes & your words. Love that -
U GET IT (thank God)~

R.'s card is far more precious to me than any pub event, accolade, or contest prize I've enjoyed. Reason is straightforward. Perforce, artists work alone. No way around the condition of their occupations. Down the long distance tunnel R's painting touched me. In my metier I lucked out, managed to touch her back. Still, I do wish she would use more circumspection in her choice of men.

The Girl Next Door

The girl next door is a painter, only
she is not a girl anymore and she
is not next door but across the walking alley.
As best as I can figure she
dresses herself, pays skylight rent, buys groceries,
meets utilities, makes car payments
on what she manufactures, sells, shows,
and decors.
Hers is a cottage industry in mid-city.

Certain observations of certain citizens are worth the record.

She is always up, about, out earlier than most.
She drives a jeep; the canvas top an emblem of
the sometime restive woman I’ve known before.
She mixes her paints, lacquers; spray seals
her paintings out the back, en plein air.
From what I can see she is always, almost
always, in motion. She is a small woman.
Skin is light brown. Flesh tight on the bones. Her face, toothy smile,
is drawn. And I keep wondering why.

Sometimes I’ve seen her holding her head
in her hands, through the open door, on her couch.
I think she told me once she had been a stripper.

When she steps out that door I rarely say hello
or look to engage her in conversation.
She as seldom looks up to my second floor home.
Somehow it seems wrong to disturb the painter in
Actaeon fashion.
The truth is I shy my eyes from her movements.
Even Diana I figure needs her apartment privacy
when bathing, not bathing, or working hard
to satisfy the time-stamped commission.

Last week she set outside, against the red brick wall, three paintings.
All of women, all nudes, in different comportments.
Stupid aesthete that I am I wanted her to know
which of the three struck my inside sense.
It was the uncertain, single, middle woman in defiant body.
The girl whose pond belly pulled on life,
whose face in line drawing bore the bearings of her thoughts,
whose textured flesh lent itself to
enigmatic movements. The ones no man dares describe.

That day she suddenly looked up at my door,
maybe self-consciously, maybe with suspicion.
Of course I said nothing, looked down to my business,
kept inviolate her work in progress.

Next door to the painter lives a blues man,
a Louisiana boy whose lone wail, sundown acoustics,
can come across, travel over, string river sweet.

Here too an observer should never intrude too much;
not when high secrets keep their secrets in the alley.

Dec/25/2011, 12:21 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
Christine98 Profile
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Re: What makes making poetry worth the lonesome effort

Good story, Tere. A perfect Christmas story about giving and receiving. I love her thank you note,

Dec/26/2011, 10:34 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
Terreson Profile
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Re: What makes making poetry worth the lonesome effort

Thanks, Chris. You're right.

Dec/26/2011, 2:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson

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