Last evening, as planned, I drove to the next town to attend a poetry reading at a comfy, independent coffee shop. Horrors! There's a sign on the door, "poetry reading canceled, closing early." This cannot be. People will come, they will cry, they will demand explanations. Well, that didn't happen. A friend who had already arrived and I posted a sticky note next to the closure announcement telling a third friend where to find us, and we went up the hill to a Mexican restaurant, kept a beady eye on the door and finally three others joined us for an impromptu dinner and reading--just to our own table, of course. We had a good visit, laughed a lot, and left satisfied. But the ghost of a thought followed me. Already I live in a neighborhood where our only semi-independent coffee shop closed precipitously on the day of a poetry reading. You can understand my angst. Poetry and cafes have long been good bedfellows, warm companions, etc. The supermarket version of coffee shop is not the same.
Here's another thing; the place that closed without warning--I was to have been the feature reader that evening, heck, the only reader. So I take these things personally. If that Mexican restaurant, long a fixture in its town, closes, I'm going to call for an exorcism, or genetic alteration to remove my poison poetry gene. Or stay home. But that might call down the imps of the perverse and my house go to strangers, a sign posted on the front door, "Contaminated. Do not enter." How can Auden claim that poetry makes nothing happen. Just look at this mess.