I prepared my set for the Weird Words reading at the Beatrice Wood Center knowing two special friends would be in the audience. Although, as I say in the poem, I never knew their adult son, having lost my own son in his infancy, I feel a special connection with them.
One day, this poem came to me. I was nervous at first to share it with them. But they told me that they read it over and over in private. On that night, I read it to them in person for the first time. Needless to say it was difficult to keep reading through strong feelings. Kevin Wallace, director of the Center, videotaped the evening, and captured this moment.
Here also is the text of the poem:
I had a great time reading poems at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts as part of the lineup for Weird Words. Octogenerian firecracker Polly Bee also read her by turns hilarious and heartbreaking prose poems, and Tree Bernstein read sonorously from her chapbook “Water” while the ever-versatile Buddy Wilds (who also served as emcee) accompanied her fluidly on acoustic guitar.
The Center is a gorgeous property atop a hill in upper Ojai with stunning vistas on all sides and rooms filled with “Beato’s” finished and unfinished ceramic masteripeces. The property was warmed up for our arrival by a well-attended reception for a striking exhibit of paintings and glassworks by Richard Amend and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, and by nightfall the bamboo was rustling with doves roosting down for the night.
I read a poem dedicated to the memory of two friends’ departed son, and somehow managed to collect myself to carry on after seeing the look in their eyes. It was a special evening, full of good friends and good art. I think Ms. Wood would have been proud.