Recorded Reading: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ueh1sfkj78ldwm/a%20nonconversation%20.mp3?dl=0
She pulled up alongside the van I was sitting in the back of, causing me to look up and into her passenger window.
She was shaking her head, waving her arms in a scissoring motion, mouthing words which obviously could not get through the two thicknesses of glass between us.
I theorized that this was some sort of primitive attempt at communication.
Nothing like every other neighbor on this street who has reached out to know me in the over six months I’ve been here, of course. They got out of their vehicles or homes, walked up to the van, and actually talked with me.
If they had concerns, we worked together to solve them. Some brought food, some water, some literature, one or two even gave money.
This seemed very different.
But I still took initiative to climb forward to extend consideration.
“You’re in the way of people turning into this driveway,” she informed me, still waving her arms. “You need to pull forward so we can get in.”
I opened my mouth to reply, wondering as I did so where to even begin with this, um, person.
“This curb is painted red to the safe turning distance, and I am parked beyond that red zone”?
“You know very well I usually park (by invitation of the business owner) across the street ~ a similar distance, BTW, from their driveway ~ and am here because there’s a construction project right now which finds me much more convenient where I am”?
“There’s a police camera which captures this location, and as a result things have been much quieter the last three days for me”?
“I make it a rule never to park directly in front of somebody’s house”?
“Could we work together on a solution? How ’bout if I back up a little?”
But I didn’t get to say any of those things, because as soon as my mouth opened, so did hers.
I listened to her say the same things she just had over again, with the addition of “You’ve been here for a while,” and, “You’ve caused a lot of trouble.”
“Are you here to talk with me,” I asked, “or at me?”
She looked at me blankly.
“Do you want to have a conversation, or do you wish just to talk at me and have me say nothing in return?”
“You need to move up,” she proclaimed for the third time. “I have to go, someone might come.”
There was of course no one on the road behind her.
“You don’t want me to say anything at all ~ just talk to me, then?”
She drove on.
When the poet next moves her van on Monday, she will repark it back a few feet from where it presently sits.
When construction at her usual parking space is complete she’ll move back to it.
If sound levels increase using the storage spaces as hiding and resonance chambers, she’ll move back under the police camera.
Unless of course someone in authority tells her to do otherwise.
Authority or no, they will probably be infinitely more polite, easier to work with, than that “lady.”
Among us, poets are ill paid. In order to continue her work, this one currently lives in her minivan, on an income of a fraction of our nation’s poverty level. If her work has moved, enabled or uplifted you, your contribution to this effort may be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/kx4xka-are-you-a-patron-of-the-arts