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Molly Fisk: 6 Point Arena

“It’s moving to me in this sometimes cold world to be
reminded that strangers can come together so effortlessly.”

 

This week I drove four hours to a little town on the coast to do a poetry reading. I hadn’t given a reading in eight months, and I’ve been struggling with my writing, so this was kind of a test.

I arrived early enough to take a hike along some bluffs and then watch the sun set from the end of a fishing pier, while drinking a gin-free gin & tonic. I thought about having the gin, but I haven’t been drinking for almost 27 years now, and I knew it would make me unpredictable — probably in the direction of sappy and overly confiding, but maybe the other way, toward sarcastic and arrogant, or possibly just swinging wildly in a charming manner between the two.

After my tonic & lime, and no green flash from the setting sun, I walked back to the car. I passed a truck with a huge black dog leaning out the camper window, front feet and all. I stopped and said hello, and after a long pause he started barking so loudly I flinched and stepped back. His owner clambered out of the cab to reprimand the dog, whose name turned out to be Little Neptune, and who gave me a thorough wrist bath while Fritz, the owner, was welcoming me to Point Arena, telling me how sorry he was to have to miss my reading, and asking if I were married.

I’m not married. I’m not in love. I’m not dating anyone at the moment, and although once in a while I’m ferociously lonely, that didn’t seem useful information to give this friendly 80-year-old whose breath smelled ever so slightly of gin — even though he was handsome and the part of my brain that wears a leather jacket and too much eyeliner remarked that if I were to kiss him, together we could create the flavor of a whole gin & tonic.

Instead, I smiled and lied: “Yes, I am, but thank you,” and he bowed. The dog, meanwhile, was working his enormous tongue in circles up my forearm, which didn’t feel half-bad, so I thought it might be time to go.

The reading was wonderful. An accomplished open mike, good acoustics. An audience of about 20, who listened carefully. My new poems sounded reasonably good together. Afterward, I was paid $100, which just about covered my gas, and escorted on an enthusiastic late night tour of Point Arena, a town that’s only two blocks long.

Why am I telling you this story? I guess because it’s moving to me in this sometimes cold world to be reminded that strangers can come together so effortlessly. I’m always amazed when people show up to hear poems by someone they’ve never met about a river they’ve never seen. And it was good to be reminded that resistance on my part to this kind of connection — whether by way of gin, sarcasm, loneliness, even erotic daydreams about large black dogs — is worth fending off. It betrays something fundamental and human that deserves not to be betrayed.

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  • Kristyn Appleby December 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Dear Molly – Merry Christmas to you and thank you for the gifts your writing brings. If you ever come to Sebastopol for a reading, I’ll be there!

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