Poetry & Art 4/26/13
|Charlene Baldridge at Poetry & Art|
all photos by Liliane Choney
A report on my appearance to introduce my late daughter, poet Laura Jeanne Morefield. I began with introduction of blowup photos of Laura and of Laura and me.
“How can she possibly do that?” was the question most frequently asked of my friends, stalwarts who accompanied me and helped me though my first live, aloud in public presentation of Laura’s chap book, The Warrior’s Stance.
It was my 79th birthday, and, as a gift, my best GF Liliane Choney gave me an hour-plus with a make-up artist named Meleah, who transformed my clean but sere and weathered face and hair into something beautiful. Feeling that way certainly buoyed me up for the Friday presentation at Poetry & Art at the Museum of the Living Artist in Balboa Park.
The evening of poetry started late and host Michael Chung Klam decided to plow right ahead, with my presentation coming last, prior to what would have been the interval.
|With Michael Chung-Klam, our host|
I sat there listening to others read, and it took me back to vocal competitions when I was a young woman, sitting through maybe 25 other lyric sopranos singing the same aria I was about to sing. By the time it rolled around to me I was insecure and heavy of voice, and, sure enough, I never did well.
Last night, though, I was determined to lift the audience up with Laura’s words. Something magical happened. I introduced Laura and her story and as I read her works I found new music, drama and meaning in each of them, For the first time, ever, I realized that her poem “Selah,” ostensibly about blowing bubbles instead of praying that day, really concerns her tendency to be a control freak. In the poem she has no control: the bubbles go where they may and last not as long as the poet intends; but she finds beauty in their fragility. “….Some pop before they/ leave the wand and some wander to heights that amaze me so that I watch them ascend/until they are no longer visible or simply/no longer are.”
|Rob and Charlene|
|Kay and Sharyn Lyon|
Friends and I discussed the reading at a post mortem at The Crest Café. Those present were my stalwarts: girlfriends Liliane Choney and Kay O’Neil and my best friend Rob Wesley. I told them about the discoveries I made as I was reading. They felt them, too; as I read they discovered the revealed meanings, a sign that Laura was definitely there, making herself clear to me, and, through me, to others.
Other poems I read were “Rain,” “Another Day,” “I Invented Body Surfing,” “If They’re Right,” “Living with Cancer,” “I Am Not My Cancer,” “I’ve Been Waiting” and “The Work at Hand.”
How could I do that indeed? How could I possibly float my immense grief on a series of breaths and not melt into a blubbering puddle? I know only that I have told the story so many times that each time it becomes easier. Laura’s poems are universes of their own, explored differently each time they travel through my mind, escape my lips and fly on my breath. As I once wrote, “We breathed each other’s breaths.” Apparently that continues.
Next up, my friends, is the presentation of “our” theatre piece, The Warriors’ Duet, to be produced by the San Diego Fringe Festival sdfringe.com. It will play the weekend of July 5,6,7 at 10th Avenue Theatre. Casting and times TBA.
|Susan Hertzog and Charlene|
Meanwhile, I will see if my feet bring me back to earth.
|Charlene, baby Chung-Klam, Jennifer Chung-Klam and Christian Hertzog|
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" -- Mary Oliver