It was an old house in an old neighborhood, a Queen Anne among the shotguns. The bay window faced the garden. The room of the bay window was painted red, and was generously hung with the paintings of one artist, probably kept alive with this collection. The room did not have a fire, but the kitchen was nearby. It was not always a silent room, because it was the parlor. The visitors came as they were invited. There was the traditional Zulu party, a breakfast for all day last night and into the ashes of Wednesday. There was the occasional month hosting the poetry people, some of whom came to even smaller parties to edit (what was called) the magazine.
It was a dark rain all day at mid-morning, and the heavy wooden door to that Queen Anne was a bit swollen. The carpet in the red parlor felt better than a chair, and there was the basket of submissions for the magazine to be gone through. Lee produced a cup of tea. She was a tall woman who favored big skirts, and when she sat with a pile of envelopes, the skirt was a surf of fabric. The big basket of envelopes was to be read and sorted: poems that were No, poems that were Maybe, and the hope of something Stellar. The red parlor held the hush of rain and turned pages.
It came to be a chat about the cover of the magazine. Lee talked about Medusa and how her hair became music and poetry. There was going to be a new printer, with a test of a black and white cover, perhaps a drawing. That is how it came to be that these hands made a cover for the magazine, The New Laurel Review.
And there were parties, and readings, and poetry meetings. There was Lee in a long skirt, perhaps from Haiti or Mexico, whose hem did not quite touch the banquette outside some housewarming party on Alvar street. And the people who loved her, loved Lee; the poet and trumpet player who lived at home, the owner of Copasetic Books who ended up hosting John Sinclair a few years steady for Lundi Gras…oh, Ahmos, who perhaps holds a lamp for you now.
It might be that many things are written in this year of so many losses, and perhaps some writing on the air will be for you, Lee. You who mothered earnest but provincial poets into sometimes the national stage. Maybe you smiled with that same heart shaped glow that you gave to one of your own tall children standing on the floor heater, some damp day; maybe there’s your voice almost a purr; maybe we who flew distance and time are too your children in poetry, as you are a mother of us going forth without you.
Suzi X is a poet/writer, artist and editor of Red Mare, a poetry chapbook series; reviews have recently appeared in Handy Uncapped Pen and Rockers For Life. Work previously appeared in Ice Floe Press. Art offerings are on Etsy (etsy.com/shop/suzi00), which is the only online point of sale for Red Mare, and various other of my one of only work. Twitter: @xsuzi00
Banner: ‘Tree #5’ from Tree Series. (c) 2021 R. Frede Kenter. Twitter: @frede_kenter