Her friends worried her and she wore her anxiety like bad makeup
Don't mistake me, she needed to be
around them, absorbing their radiating energy.
But she was constantly edgy,
waiting for a direct question, waiting
for the group's attention to be focused
knew she could not withstand this examination. She felt this
knowledge as an ache.
Still, when there was an opportunity,
she would talk to one of them on the fringes,
while the others were in loud discussion.
One time, she suggested an analysis of the poem they'd just read
to Steve. He didn't expect such insight.
Surprise crashed like a wave on his face.
Surely he would remember this.
Surely he would see her intelligence shining steadily. But then
something flashier, something more glittering, caught his eye.
She was still there, but she had left his room.
Away from the others she wrote obsessively in her notebook.
It was her journal. It was her scrapbook of ideas and poetry.
She never once believed that her writing was good.
She wrote because it was necessary.
In the notebook Steve did remember. In the notebook she shone
as brightly as the others. In the notebook Steve
was her lover.
Steve worked at a bookshop, handling their promotional
needs. He organised author signings and readings.
The day's reader was an important
contemporary poet and the group waited for him
at the entrance of the buzzing room. He was late. He was
over an hour late. Eventually, Steve had to admit that
he wasn't coming. He looked at his friends.
Someone had to give the audience what they had come for.
Someone had to perform.
At that moment she felt withdrawn from the others. She was in the room
and at the same time not. Clearer than the murmuring voices around her
hear her words. Her internal voice was strong and steady.
She knew that this was the moment when, at last, she would be heard aloud.
She walked toward the front of the room.
Steve angrily pushed her aside. He did not remember.