I’m Sorry, Major Jackson

I’m the thirty-eight-year-old-mother-of-two who assaulted you at approximately 9:00pm tonight. I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited after your poetry reading that I bought all three of your books. As I stood in line waiting for you to sign one, I tried to pick just one question to ask you. I wanted it to be a thoughtful question. I wanted the answer to be meaningful and unavailable on your website. But when I approached and you asked for my name, I was awestruck. I told you that I have two children, and I asked what you read to your own kids. When you replied with Nikki Giovanni, I was overcome. I know about Nikki Giovanni! All of the sudden I was telling you that I have a recording of Lucille Clifton and Gwendolyn Brooks in my car, and I’m recalling the time I heard Brooks read at my elementary school. And THEN, you said, “You are a poet”. My heart nearly burst from my chest. If only I had thanked you and moved on, but I couldn’t stop myself. I fumbled. “I’m a reader. I’ve written lots of bad poems. I’m a wannabe. This stuff lights me up.” Ugh, what an idiot. Can I change my answer? Here’s what I should have said to you, Mr. Jackson: “I’m not a poet YET. But I will become one as soon as I get home, and I only live five minutes from here.”

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