Thursday, October 16, 2008

Timeless, Raceless, Sexless…Barrierless

Regardless of our differences, we are able to connect with individuals through the gift of poetry…

Driving along a deserted path one Saturday afternoon…sun roof open. Music blared from the speakers. I soaked up the sun and absorbed the earth-shaking bass lines. Arriving at my destination, I pulled into the parking lot of a quaint, somewhat-desolate white house. Stepping over an abandoned tri-cycle, I climbed the creaky stairs. I entered the room and met the quizzical eyes of ten strangers, all about 15 years my senior. I quickly scanned the room of curious faces, and immediately wondered if I was in the right place.

After hearing a soft, gentle voice, “You must be Erika,” I realized: this is the place. Despite this realization, a wave of awkwardness enveloped me…I’m not certain whether it was the age difference, or the fact that I was the only individual with high melanin concentrations in the room. Perhaps, it was a combination of the two. Nevertheless, I found an empty seat and tried to get comfortable.

No real introductions, we delved right in. One after another, they allowed their emotions and creativity to pour out. Really good stories and poetry. How good? Well, lets just say, if my body was litmus paper, their words alerted me to the presence of arousing, poignant, and oftentimes – witty poetry and prose. I laughed, felt goose bumps, and other times... Well, I was extremely touched after being introduced to American poet Sharon Olds by someone in the group. I found myself holding back tears as she read her work. “The Last Evening” was that poignant -- touching on a subject that many can relate to -- experiencing the slow death of a loved one and desperately trying to come to grips with it.

And then it was my turn to share. I read, “Synchronized Hearts,” an original poem about connecting with someone, spirit and energy, in the midst of chaotic, arousing music. They, too, felt the presence of my poetry, offering words of praise, debating about its sensuality, and overall -- providing meaningful feedback/critique.

It was at that moment that I was reminded of something I once heard about poetry: it is truly a gift that connects people, despite their differences...timeless, raceless, sexless…barrierless.