Last night I gave a reading at the Barnes and Noble near work, in Princeton. It was a decent turn out – about 15 people, plus a few strays who wandered into the reading from the sections surrounding it. I was paired with Jim Whelden, and despite our questionable history, it seemed to go well. I read first, which I’m pretty sure he prefers.
Jacob was there, too – he was a doll. During my reading, he sat attentively on Donna’s lap, straining to see around the folks sitting in front of him. Every so often he caught my eye, grinned and waved excitedly. He was thrilled when I waved back and told the audience, “My son Jacob is here tonight.” After blowing through a few poems from Ripe Again, as well as some of the new biblical poems, I read a brand new poem about my brother and a new one about Jacob. For that, I had Jacob stand up in front with me, and he was grinning the whole time. He responded to lines in the poem (for the line “he tells me about his new girlfriend and why he loves her: because she has a loose tooth,” Jacob responded, “No she doesn’t! Not anymore!”) and was generally well received by the audience. Who knows – perhaps a budding performer?
Having Jacob at the reading was intensely more satisfying than I’d anticipated it would be. I have tried to be very careful about booking poetry events on nights when it would require me to get a babysitter. It’s nice to know that we’re coming to a point where Jacob is old enough to come with me, and be mostly well-behaved for a significant portion of the evening. Looking out at him while reading reminds me why I write (aside from the fact that I feel like I couldn’t not write): I want to create something beautiful to leave behind, even a small something. And though I know I’ve already done that in Jacob, I want him to have something tangible, something he can hold and say, “She does this for me.”