At the poet’s reading people sit,
read the paper before she begins.
They read about portraits;
the unflattering portrait of
a pregnant princess and the
true portrait of a dead ‘sir’
with a catalogue of crimes.
There is a revolt against both.
These portraits are unearthed
in the museum’s downstairs
lecture hall. Upstairs the works
of Irish artists sleep where we
would have sat if the reading
had not been oversubscribed.
There is an uprising in poetry today.
We wait to hear the poet’s
observations of events, flukes
weaved through stories lit, licked
and spoken. Truths or half-truths;
we have no way of knowing.
The poet draws us, reaches us
somewhere. She speaks of birth, death,
things that come between the two.
I scan the sea of bobbing brunettes
and peppered brunettes; wonder
about the absence of bookish blondes.
When the poet reads we celebrate
her cleverness, and our own,
for being the types to travel to
lecture halls on Saturday afternoons
off and that we are inside when
riots are lighting ‘round Belfast city.