On Poetry and Lecture

“Let me tell you something you are obviously as yet unprepared to incorporate among the few and scattered synapse of your simian superiority,” Bridget Olglaive said.

I could see this was not going to be pleasant. Bridget Olglaive’s lectures were seldom pleasant, but always bit to the core. We went to them with fear and yearning. And this was impromptu. Bridget was always cut closest when she was impromptu.

Bridget was not exactly a beautiful woman, harsh black brows, ice blue eyes, thick jaw and short, stout workman’s neck. Nor did she cultivate beautiful—cut her hair short, no rouge, no lipstick, a wool dress-suit, sometimes a tie. But you noticed her anyway. Noticed in the way you noticed a rattlesnake or alligator or a yellow cactus flower. And we were fascinated with that; and there was the deadliness of getting too close and we were fascinated with that, too. This un-exclusive fascination was the killer. There was the natural flare of very alive in her dark brows and fierce blue eyes which took possession of all and every that came within her orbit. Despite her aggressive plainness, I have never met a person who knew her—man, woman or whatever—who did not want to become her lover. And I do not mean lover in the sense of quicky over the desk or one night stand. But lover in the sense of slipping from the safety of the distant traverse of her gravity to flare a like a lost satellite into the scorch of her atmosphere.

Bridget was my mentor, and my thesis, a collection of poems and stories, was not going well. And I had just made the miscalculation of publishing a critique of her poetry collection, “The Gods have Fallen.” I had intended it to be provoking. Intended to awaken her to my presence, to have those hawk brows frown my way and to feel the hammer-slam of her nail blue eyes. I intended to begin a conversation about poetry, and creativity. I suppose I had even thought my insinuation might be the first installment of a seduction.

Now that her notice was achieved, I knew the seriousness of my miscalculation.

“One thing you have never done, boy,” she said, “is make anything from nothing. You have not the least notion of making. And yet you presume.” The sentence did not end with an ellipses, but a final and nailing period. And that was the end of it. She turned and strode from my oblivion.

Oversight of my thesis was reassigned to Roy Markum, a drab academic whose idea of guidance was to lecture on structure, grammar, audience, and the efficacy of proper punctuation.

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