God kisses me with blue light, a particular blue the same as that which flashes on the hoods of police cars. God’s kiss becomes a siren forcing me to stop.
“You are the real thing.” I’m spending a leisurely afternoon talking… just old fashioned conversation with a dear friend who is also my literary critic. We talk about whatever…the way college kids in our 1950’s generation used to sit up all night debating/solving the world’s problems.
“You are the real thing.” My friend/critic reminds me more than once when I bemoan the boxes of unpublished manuscripts gathering dust in my house; children’s stories, incomplete novels, first and second drafts of short stories, creative non-fiction, memoir, letters, diary entries, abandoned poems.
Fear lurks beneath my voice. “I’ll probably die without any significant book publications. I’m not Alice Walker. No college will want to archive my writings.”
“Just keep them in the family.”
“Well, if no one publishes my poetry manuscript and it seems like I’m about to leave here, I’ll publish them myself. Then I’ll have a stack of books piled on a table and persons who attend my memorial service can take one as they leave. “I’ll be like Van Gogh.”
I laugh, but my friend does not. I can feel she sees some humor, but no laughter erupts from her throat.
“Just keep doing what you do.” Her already soft voice softens even more. Her quiet response becomes a moment of deep sister-love. I know she’s right. I am the real thing; like Margaret Walker and Stanley Kunitz, Robert Hayden, Mary Oliver and Lucille Clifton. Like June Jordan and Toni Cade Bambara.
(The one time I met Bambara she walked with a limp. I think it was permanent. Her writing reflects her unique improvisational style. It took me quite a while to understand her urban pace when I first tried to read GORILLA, MY LOVE.)
I got my own step. I got my own beat. I got my own southern pathos, my own churchified spirit, my own deep sister love. I hear what my friend does not say, what I intuitively know; wide spread publication of my writings, either now or after my demise is NOT the most important thing. Already, I know the joy of process. And how to share it.
God’s kiss tinged in blue light touches my forehead, my chin, my cheeks. In the background my audience of ascended and elder poets applauds. Once again, I am in Now. God’s siren grows quieter until there is recognition. My cancer diagnosis is no cause for alarm. Thank you Father-Mother God, Jesus and Holy Ghost.
Jeannette Drake (copyright August 20, 2015)
Jeannette Drake is a retired psychotherapist who has published poetry, short-fiction, non-fiction and letters to the editor in a variety of journals and magazines. Her most poems are "Sweet Story," published in Reflections by Telling Our Stories Press and "Morning Prayer," published in Panolpzine.com (August, 2005)