You Never Forget That First Time

For The Sunday Whirl: Wordle #60
http://sundaywhirl.wordpress.com/

You Never Forget That First Time

No more than trembling vessel
of nerves, wrestling deepest desire
to run, but knowing time has come,
bluffs her way onto makeshift stage.

Mind, a muddied stain, thoughts
become crawling insects, willowy
antenna reaching across great
distance, but not quite making contact.

Grateful for corona of footlights
that banish audience to mere shadows,
brushing away stone boulders of doubt,
finally opens mouth and begins.

Finished now, she makes her way
to folding chair at periphery, nails
body to that fragile support, limbs
still shaking.

Unknown young woman hesitantly
squats next to her, softly says,
“I loved all of your poetry,
especially the one about fearing
failure. Is there any way I could
get a copy?”

Elizabeth Crawford  6/10/12

Notes: I gave her the typed copy I had used for the reading. Years later, she appeared at the bookstore I managed. Approached the counter and hesitantly said, “I don’t think
you remember me, but maybe you would remember this.” From a fold in her wallet,
she produced the now crumpled and well-used copy of the poem I had given her.

The older woman, who had been standing off to the side, stepped forward, and said,
“I’m her mother and we have come to buy the Anthology that was nominated for a Grammy Award. The one with your poem in it. She was still in school, the night she heard you read. She’s carried the poem with her everywhere, reading it when she’d get discouraged. We are celebrating her first real position as a grade school English teacher. We’d love it if you’d  sign the book for her.”

I did, thanking her profusely for being my very first fan, and by doing what she did, giving me the strengthening support I so desperately needed to continue reading my poetry in public.

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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20 Responses to You Never Forget That First Time

  1. Great poem, great story

    Welcome to Soul’s Music and thank you gp,

    Elizabeth

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  2. Marianne says:

    What an incredible story, and poem! I am much to shy to ever read my work in public! This piece is awesome on so many levels!

    Thank you Marianne. It was never my intention to read my poetry aloud. I wrote because it was the best and cheapest form of therapy I could find. And that first time was many years after I began writing. I went on to become the Moderator of one of the largest poetry groups in that part of the state. That meant I was the one who set up all the public readings. And I always shook before and after each and every one, lol.

    Elizabeth

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  3. drpkp says:

    Oooooh the poem was wonderful … but the story… ah the story brought tears.

    Didn’t mean to make anyone cry, but thank you for your words. The first word on Brenda’s list was bluffs. I immediately started writing about a landscape. But, kept hearing that line about bluffing her way onto that makeshift stage. Sometimes the words know far more and better than we do. I have never forgotten that experience because she brought home, for me, how we can never know the impact of our own words and story. And had she not spoken up, I truly might never have read aloud again,

    Elizabeth

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  4. Awww… this is so lovely. Your prose describes the nerves, the jitters that come with speaking in public but, the back story is so fabulous. To know how deeply we influence others with our words is the richest prize we could possibly be given.
    Wonderful read this morning 🙂

    Thanks so much ddt. Two people asked me for copies of some of my early work, this week. Am thinking that is why this piece got written. And I so agree with you, that is the richest prize we can ever receive from our endeavors. It has to be the most soul satisfying experience.

    Elizabeth

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  5. Traci B says:

    Beautiful poem and a marvelous story to go with it. Thanks for sharing a bit of your soul’s music with us today.

    Traci, thank you. I have often said that my reason for writing is the therapuetic affect. The anchor of any good therapy is honesty. Although difficult at times, I still believe that.

    Elizabeth

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  6. Laurie Kolp says:

    I really enjoyed this. At first I thought you were going in a different direction with this… but what a lovely surprise! Congratulations!!

    Laurie, am so glad you enjoyed it. Of late, I seem to be going back to beginnings and finding things I didn’t know I needed. Although I changed a great deal of the syntax in these words, I really enjoyed revisiting this memory. Have been thinking of putting a collection of poems together and this is certainly one of the reasons for doing that.

    Elizabeth

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  7. nan says:

    I enjoyed the poem very much – especially your use of “corona”… nicely done. Thanks for sharing the notes also. What a sweet story!

    Thanks Nan, but I had to laugh when I saw your words about this “sweet story.” There was nothing sweet about that evening. I was scared shitless! Her actions became the prod that allowed me to continue to read in public. However, I never lost the scared feeling or the shakes afterward, even though I’ve done it now perhaps hundreds of times.

    Elizabeth

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  8. brenda w says:

    Elizabeth, this is a lovely lovely story. Thank you for the poem and your celebration of words. How rewarding to have impacted somebody enough that they carried your poem around with them. What a high honor!

    Yes, it was and thanks so much for the words that made it possible. Granted, I played with them shamelessly, but there really are liberties to be had and taken with age, and artistic license, lol. I think I was the one who needed to remember this story, at this time. Thanks for providing the venue.

    Elizabeth

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  9. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, you definitely wrote a ‘gem’ of a poem from the wordle words; and the story you shared added even more depth to the poem itself! Gave me chills. You really never know when something you do will influence them greatly; and it is wonderful if/when that person returns and lets you know!

    For me, it is the deepest satisfaction about being a poet. Being heard and understood is priceless. So glad you enjoyed it Mary. It is a cherished memory and the words took me there, even though I thought I was supposed to go elsewhere. The words really do know best, don’t they?

    Elizabeth

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  10. What a wonderful poem, story, and Happening. Loved every word. And am excited you are considering a book of poems. I’ll be first in line for it! I need to be doing that too. Maybe we can encourage each other, Elizabeth.

    Thanks Sherry and yes, we should always encourage and support one another. Went back and reread your interview with me from what seems so very long ago. And gotta thank you again, my friend.

    Elizabeth

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  11. markwindham says:

    excellent story, we all know that words can be powerful, seeing a tangible result has to be amazing.

    Thanks so much Mark. And yes it is and was amazing. I wonder if she ever knew that her words meant as much to me as mine seemed to do for her.

    Elizabeth

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  12. Elizabeth, while reading this I was wondering if it were true. Then I find out it is, what a nice surprise. The power of your words is a true inspiration.

    Pamela

    Thanks my friend. I have long believed there is always some bit of story behind each and every poem. I’m glad the words prompted this memory. I needed to hear it myself.

    Elizabeth

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  13. pmwanken says:

    Oh, Elizabeth…what an incredible story…told first through your poem, and further through your notes. Thank you for sharing both with us! I especially loved your use of corona…I could see the brightness.

    Paula

    Paula, actually thought I’d have difficulty with that word, but it seemed to leap into place of its own accord. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  14. teri says:

    “No more than trembling vessel of nerves, wrestling deepest desire.” I wonder how long we wrestle with our deepest desire before it sees sunlight. Your stands as a beacon of hope. Even though you were terrified. Thank you for sharing.

    Thanks Terri. I often wonder the same thing. Many of my dreams have been realized on some level, for which I am deeply grateful. However, the deepest desire? I figure that is why I am still breathing, lol.

    Elizabeth

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  15. hypercryptical says:

    Excellent poem, excellent story. Thank you.

    Anna :o]

    Anna, thank you and welcome to Soul’s Music. The wordles are fun, sometimes frustrating, but well worth the time and adventure.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  16. Mr. Walker says:

    Elizabeth, I love “corona of footlights”. That’s when it started to make sense to me, what was going on. I loved that ending, that quiet moment offstage.

    And then I read your notes. What an amazing story. You can’t make up that kind of stuff. Truth is stranger than fiction – and more wonderful too.

    Richard

    Thanks so much Richard. I have a great many good memories about reading my poetry aloud, but this one will always remain very special to me. The next best one is when my former mentor called and asked me to come in and read to his current Poetry Writing Class at the University from which I graduated. After I said yes, he then told me as long as I was teaching now, I could lead the class in some writing exercise if I wanted to do so. I did, and he participated in the exercise and even read what he had written. That was a very special highlight of my writing experience.

    Elizabeth

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  17. julespaige says:

    I only have ever read a few times in the public forum. Acted just a tad too. But I’m not good at remembering lines. The groups around here are a tad religious – I haven’t found a group off line to work with. Kudos to you! Continues success. Failure is only one lesson to learn.
    Thanks for reading and enjoying both pieces, even though only one was for the Whirl. 🙂

    Jules, one of the things I like about public reading, specifically with poetry, is that it’s okay to actually “read” the words and lines. Every audience has a personality, and that element can subtley change the actual meaning of the words and piece somehow. On those occasions when my children were present, they always asked for a certain poem. The poem was a very tongue in cheek piece about being a mother. And it always made me start grinning and laughing when I read it. Might be why they always asked for it? Oh, and poetry groups are somewhat of a crap shoot, you never know just what to expect. Have been thinking of going in search of one, but ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I really don’t know, lol. Now, if the poetry circuit tried an actual face to face reading, I’d really consider that, even with all of the obstacles it would entail.

    Elizabeth

    PS The tongue in cheek “Mother” piece can be found here:
    http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/short-digression/

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  18. well-written and interesting prose….enjoyed greatly

    Like

  19. Tumblewords says:

    What an inspiring story! The poem is delightful and the story is surely memorable.

    Like

  20. margo roby says:

    No, we never do. After reading your note I reread the poem with my first time in mind. Thank you, Elizabeth.

    margo

    Like

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