Unanswered Questions from Dinner with a Poet

Unanswered Questions from Dinner with a Poet

“What are you thinking about now?” he asked,
across the table,
over the empty plates,
into the silence of an unfinished conversation.

“Is it normal to be terrified?” I want to say.
And when will writing not feel
like assembling a jigsaw puzzle
where all the pieces are gray,
or like being in a country
where my currency is defunct.

But I swallowed my words with a sip
of good Chilean red,
and all I remember now are these two things:

With tired eyes and a precise, compassionate voice,
he looked at me and said,
“Fear is a useful diagnostic tool.” 

And then, when we got up from the table,
he took my wine glass, not quite empty,
put it to his lips,
and drank it. 

LCS
2/13/10

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