Face to Face with Audre Lorde
……..What is it you want? She asks. She
looks at me across her desk, her dark brown eyes
deep set. I st, stam, stamm….mmer and pout—
she, so full of powerful words—what do I want
but a life of meaning and telling.
……..I don’t know, honest my answer. She tells me,
go jogging, do something, anything, to move into yourself.
I know there is no perfect answer, no plan, to make life
come together well. The masters lived, went jogging even,
stumbled poorly city to city, traveled wide breached plains
to get where they’ve been.
……..Audre crosses her desk and hugs me. But,
the best thing she ever did? Throw that poem back at me,
ask, How old are you? Cowering in my chair I stammer,
Thirty-two. In her booming voice she declares,
Thirty-two, you have more experience in life than this—rewrite,
she throws back my measly attempt at a poem. Huh!?
The word inscribed.
……..Cold honest mother love. Her quest—How
does it make you feel? The response she demands
to every poem. My shock to feel! Long history of denial
suppressed grief my main reason to write—move this grief
from the deep down stuck place it hides in an inner
box wrapped, hidden even from myself. Her tough words
push all of us, I will not be here someday, you must learn
to carry on without me.
…………….Thank you for your push. The grains of sand
in my underwear uncomfortable and humbling to shake out
in front of you. All my excellent mistakes. This gratitude
comes deep from the yet closed boxes wanting and afraid.
Sharp-leaved grasses cut, the words said to me by Audre
shearing open the boxes. Her questions echo, strong internal
probes, the way I’ve learned to gauge my life.
“Face to Face with Audre Lorde” is reprinted from The Arabesques Review.
Julene Tripp Weaver has a private counseling practice in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Her book, No Father Can Save Her was published by Plain View Press. She is widely published in journals, and anthologies, a few include Qarrtsiluni, Drash, Menacing Hedge, Gutter Eloquence, Redheaded Stepchild, and Pilgrimage; her work is included in Garrison Keillor’s collection, Good Poems American Places. Her chapbook, Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues, contains writing from her work through the heart of the AIDS epidemic. She sometimes does wordplay on Twitter @trippweavepoet and has a website: www.julenetrippweaver.com.