The reading started late because Lisa was nervous. She was far too anxious to get up on stage without some encouragement from Jamila. She’d done these reading many times before and was starting to get used to the sinking feeling she got in the pit of her stomach before she stepped in front of the mic. She would breathe deeply and remind herself that she felt this way because what she was about to do was important. With time, that sinking feeling would go away.
The Starlight Cafe was so full that Lisa for sure they were violating the fire code. She was getting ready to read a new poem made her feel as vulnerable as the pink flesh beneath a scab. She was starting to reconsider reading it at all when Jamila came into the back room.
“Everybody is waiting for you to get started,” Jamila said.
Lisa looked down at the crumpled piece of notebook paper in her hand. She’d crossed off and rewritten so many parts of the poem now that it was barely legible. “Tell me that it is going to be all right,” Lisa said.
“You’re going to knock them dead like you always do.” Jamila squeezed her arm. “You need to get out there though. You’re late, and you know how I feel about tardiness.”
“I’ll be out there soon. Just give me a minute.”
“Okay, but it needs to be a quick minute.” Jamila went through the door to join the waiting crowd. [Read more…]