It hit all at once. You know, the moments in life that are real. Not just real, but most real. That’s what it was like when I first met Georgina, a poet and artist.
“I’ve been looking forward to this meeting all day today,” I said as my husband David and I shook her hand, then found our chairs in a quieter than normal restaurant on a late Monday evening.
“I have, too,” she replied warmly. Her presence invited me, soothed me. She seemed larger than life.
David didn’t waste any time. As we settled in our seats, he asked, “Did you bring any of your poetry with you?”
Georgina’s etched smile broadened. “Yes.” Her dark brown eyes lit up like warm coals. “I brought one with me.” She leaned over, reaching deep into her purse and came back up with a chapbook in her hand. Black, hand-tied, with an image of Clearlake in fog, it glowed on the table. David immediately flipped it open and began reading, so I chatted with Georgina–about herself, where she grew up in Napa County, and what she does in the real world when she’s not writing. I couldn’t get over her larger than life presence and knew I was in for a real treat. Her voice soothed me as much as her presence. At that moment I realized David and I were the luckiest people in the world getting to meet people like Georgina because we had to, you know, for the paper.
After a minute, David handed the chapbook to me and I flipped it open. Her words danced off the pages into my imagination as beautiful poetry does.
The images still lingered, taking shape and texture in my mind. I love the power of words, the various combination of letters that bring meaning, life, and imagination. Funny thing, words are. Words bring us information and knowledge. They are not fixed like mathematics or science. They have the power to pull emotions buried in the deepest parts of our soul and humanity. They can move, empower, motivate and liberate the reader from the inside as only spells and magic can. As David and Georgina talked, I was spellbound, lost somewhere deep in the depths of a poem. Then the food came. Jenny, our friend and owner of the restaurant we were meeting in, greeted us.
“I wanted you to try out my new sauce. Tell me what you think.” Two pasta dishes presented themselves to us. The three of us enjoyed a new presence to our company, that of comforting food. We smiled and thanked Jenny before she left, and as we were brought back to reality, I noticed the trees outside our window swaying in the warm spring breeze.
“Poetry is art,” I said.
“My friend tells me the same thing,” Georgina continued our conversation. “She says, ‘Poetry is like verbal painting.’” She had found the words hidden in the cracks of my mind. The moment lingered, like her poetry. Something compelled me; I needed to know more about this artist. “What else do you do when you’re not working or writing?” I asked.
“I believe in causes,” she said. “I feel like I’m in touch with low-income families, working for the WIC program (Women, Infant, and Children). There’s a lot of poverty, and I want to make a difference both in my job and in my spare time.” Georgina thought for a second. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to do the most basic things when you don’t have what most of us take for granted, like a car. And babies are so expensive just to feed.” Her passion ran through her words. “I feel like poetry is an outlet for me, a break from reality and the issues I face daily,” she continued. “A way for me to express myself and what I am feeling.”
“It’s very personal, too,” David interjected. “It reveals the deepest parts of your soul. And that hurts.”
Georgina laughed in agreement. “Yeah, I have some deeper work you’ll read towards the back of the book,” she said, pulling back her black hair from her face, revealing her seashell earrings. She took another bite of pasta, now cooler than before. Her peach-colored sweater brought out the highlights of her high cheekbones. And without saying another word, there was a deeper understanding and respect for the personal that we would read later.
“So, what do you think?” asked Jenny, pulling us back to reality. The distant chatter of the few voices from the bar crept back into our consciousness like a gentle breeze.
“It’s wonderful,” I said. “It’s lighter than most white sauces. How did you do it?”
“Oh good, I didn’t want it to be too heavy, even though there is heavy cream in it,” explained Jenny.
“It’s perfect,” smiled Georgina, taking another bite. Jenny disappeared, leaving us once again to dance with Georgina’s words. I skimmed another part of a poem before setting it down for good, knowing it required a quieter time to allow me to immerse myself and let it envelop me. We talked more about causes and cares we had in common; we shared about how to make the world a better place and somewhere that we can all enjoy together. The evening dusk had slid into darkness, gently whispering that our time together had neared an end. As we parted ways, I thanked her for her time, holding a piece of her soul in my hands in the form of a chapbook. “I will be reading all of this when I have uninterrupted time to give it my full attention,” I promised as we parted ways.
Later that evening, after attending to our kids, I eagerly drew a bath for myself. As I settled into its warmth, I looked again at the cover of Georgina’s chapbook. “Finding the Roots of Water,” it said. I flipped it open, and once again I was gone, swept away as the waves of her words washed over me. A tear rolled down my cheek; my throat swelled as I read the deepest parts of her being that she so bravely put into words. And as I read, my soul’s own words joined with hers, dancing in my mind, not caring if they ever found their way to paper. I smiled as they wove like waves on a beach; I allowed my tears to blend with the waves while they washed my soul and swept me away into their world.
“That’s what good poetry does,” David later said to me as his tears fell and blended with the waves of his own soul. “it pulls your soul open.”
You can purchase Georgina’s chapbook at the MAC in Middletown.
This article first appeared in The Bloom on May 31, 2019.