- Meditation at a Reading
A small girl is asleep, curled up in the red velvet chair.Halfway through his reading, the poet removes his watch, places it on the podium.He chants his poems, full sentences delivered in parcels.
The small girl sleeps with her mouth open, snuggled against the back of the red velvet chair.The poet lifts his hand to take a sip of water, and he recountsa story about living in New York City in his youth.
The crowded ballroom is quiet, everyone in red velvet chairs.He reads a poem written after his visit to Poland, then interruptshimself to add that Adorno’s dictum—that after Auschwitz there can be no poetry—has been taken out of context.
Floods, par cans, and other stage lights hang from the ceiling,most switched off. The poet notes that his own musingson Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait fail to mention that he recognized the hands. They were “old man’s hands like mine.”
The small girl, still asleep, has been shifted to a woman’s lap.Except for the stage, the light is dim. The moment expands, sound muted as if I’m covered by a glass dome.The moment contracts. I sit up straight,
only to see that everything is still the same. Risingfrom red velvet chairs, the audience applauds, cheers. Chatter rises from the floorlike the scent of bread pulled from the oven. [End Page 583]
Gwenn Gebhard’s work has appeared in Blue Earth Review, the anthology District Lines, Waterways, and Volume II, which was edited and published by Politics & Prose Bookstore. She has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and master’s degrees from Columbia University. She lives in Washington, DC, where she works as the Executive Director for a family foundation focused on improving opportunities for youth and families living in the inner city.