I got here late
The only seat available was the one no one wanted
All chairs face the stage, have a view of the author
Performance visible to most, if only through
wagging heads, at the least a peek of a name
decent money was used for admission
MY chair faced square
onto the flat side of a wide, wooden support beam.
There was no view of anything but the beam
There was no reason to place a chair here
My friend asked
“Can you see? Should we move?”
“No”, I lied, “I’m fine.”
So, I stared at the beam, for a half hour, then another
began to memorize the grain patterns in the wood
Someone had stapled something to the beam, many times
A smash of old blackened gum pressed into a small knot
smooth sides needed, gum was the answer
I wanted to touch the tree beam
I wanted to touch it, shake the hand of this new friend
Wonder if I ran my hand down against the grain, would a splinter, a quick prick, check for life If fingers rub sideways, along the side, would each ring show me a ridge, read like a romantic drama written in Braille This beam, now My beam, an old beam in an old building basement is large enough, with the help of five others to keep three stories erect for eighty-six years.
For two hours I stare at The Beam
My beam, once a tree, played me a story
More interesting than the words happening beyond my sight
by a walker who moves too quickly to grow roots
The sound of which I found easy to ignore,
wind through branches imagined are easy to understand
Rings cut across show as vertical stripes, when industry sawed
your heart square, changed your shape forever, no one asked permission
Sap and air darken your flesh!
Bark grows no more!
I paid to hear another read
I paid to hear a tree speak
Afterwards the author holds a book signing
I wait as my friend stands in a long line
purchased book in hand
I dare not tell the author that I found
a wooden support beam more interesting that their book
…but I wanted to.