Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t so precocious that someone of Robert Frost’s stature would deign to spend an evening in my company. This was no ordinary date.
I was in high school. He was world-famous, white-haired, and didn’t know I existed. But Mr. Robert Frost and I spent a night together, in a darkened room. I know I was enthralled. I can only hope he was pleased.
It happened in 1954, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I walked up the hill to the Junior High School to meet him. I found a seat where I could see and hear his brilliance, and settled down to wait. In front of me was a podium. That’s all. Just a plain wooden podium. Nothing fancy. No carvings, no detailing. Just wood. A good, strong, New England podium.
The lights were on, and I could see that I wasn’t alone. Many people had come along. Perhaps they also had an engagement with the celebrated poet. No matter. I was determined that he should feel my presence. That another poet was being born.
The lights dimmed and finally I sat in the dark. Alone at last. No sound reached my ears, save my own breathing. With not a word, a tall, lanky man walked quickly into the room. He carried a shock of papers, nearly tumbling from his hands. A semblance of smile decorated his face. He dropped the papers on the podium and walked around to stand in front of it. I held my breath.
He began to speak; his words fell into me – some were familiar, some not – and all were warm. He carried on for nearly three hours. Never reaching for water. Never stopping for applause. Never tiring of me. For he spoke only to me. Directly to me.
Never once did he step back to the podium. Not to lean upon it. Not to peek at his papers. Not to remind himself of his words. He knew them, just as he knew me.
When he’d gone, I got home. I have no memory of walking the distance. But there I was. Home. With his words still flowing through me.