The Jasper Arts Center opened it's doors to local talent twice a year; the first week of June and the week after Christmas. I only knew this because I had just read it on the pamphlet they handed me at the door. I shivered as I looked out the window; there was snow on the ground, and a tacky wreath still hung on the door. I couldn't believe I'd agreed to come.
The lights were dim, and the room was quiet. Too quiet considering the place was filled to capacity. Most of them were women; housewives and single moms, and they were all here for the same reason. They were jammed in together around the small tables that were decorated with cheap plastic bouquets and scented candles. I assumed it was meant to capture a romantic ambiance. It didn't.
I'd never been to a poetry reading. My preconceived notions and cliched images had prevented it more than once, and glancing around the room only served to reinforce my prejudice.
They were a melancholy bunch, sitting with hunched shoulders and dejected expressions; lonely middle aged women with passionless existences living vicariously through romance novels and maudlin prose. They were pathetic. It made me introspective. Is this where I was going to be in just a few short years?
I stood in the back, next to the fire exit; waiting for my friend Sarah. I'd begrudgingly agreed to meet here there; she was late. Her boyfriend Tom was being featured by their club. I had no interest in poetry or Tom. I thought he was an obnoxious jerk that had no business spouting off beautiful lines of verse. But I had been best friends with Sarah since the second grade and I'd remained friends with her through several obnoxious jerks, so I told her I'd be there. She finally arrived with her paramour in tow and we found seats off to the side.
I yawned my way through the first couple of recitations, scanning the crowd for an interesting face. I didn't find one. I was contemplating excusing myself, when the club vice president introduced the next poet; Kieran Avery. He walked from the back of the room, very slowly, with his head down, his straight dark hair falling over his face. Suddenly I had no intentions of going anywhere. I watched as he stepped behind the podium, shuffling the papers he'd brought, and clearing his throat. I was mesmerized.
He touched me with the words he spoke. His voice was soft and low, with just a touch of an accent. He kept his eyes downcast during the entire reading. He was shy and I was instantly smitten. His words seemed directed at me, although they could have been meant for anyone there – or someone a thousand miles away. But I will never forget them as long as I live.
Silence in September
Early September, you fell into my life with just a word.
I gave myself to you, body and soul, waiting for just one more.
Two words perhaps,
I waited for more to come, a sentence, a line, a paragraph.
You were silent. Teasing me. Making me want you.
Be my lover?
You asked the question.
I was afraid. I couldn't answer. I didn't.
And then you were lost to me forever.
No word spoken.
Silence in September.
I was vaguely conscious of Sarah tugging on my sleeve as she chattered on and on about Tom who was up next. I tuned her out as I became lost in a fantasy; Kieran and I dancing together underneath a heavy blanket of stars, as the moonlight shimmered off the snow covered landscape. I could feel his arms around me, pulling me tighter against him as he whispered to me softly, "Be my lover?"
Remembering the sadness of his silent September, I kissed him.
But Sarah was still tugging on my sleeve. It drew me from my fantasy and back into my sad reality.
I immediately began to apologize, and as I turned my head to look at her, my eyes fell upon the handsome young face. He was standing right in front of me.
"Emma, I've been trying to get your attention, I'd like to introduce you to Tom's friend Kieran."
I stuck out my hand and he took it, holding it for a moment longer than was politely necessary.
I smiled and he smiled back.
"Nice to meet you Emma," he said as he let go of my hand.
I couldn't stop myself, the words fell from my lips before I could stop them, "Kieran, do you... do you dance?"
He replied without hesitation, "only under the stars."
©2012 Garden Summerland