A soft-spoken man, not diffident and not forward.
I asked him if he had learned the discipline. Yes, at Dickinson College, in central Pennsylvania.
I asked if he intended to continue to write poetry.
He said that it had taken him a while to understand that he could make a poetic living. He is a full-time poet.
“You have to live a life to be a poet. I am a poet,” he said. “I live it.”
I was a little taken aback.
In a market full of early Autumn
Lancaster County corn brought into West Philly by Amish farmers
a young man had no doubt that an unknown passer-by would believe him to be a poet; and be content.
I asked him to write me a poem about October birthdays. I forgot to tell him that it need not be dreamy. (I am worn out with dreaminess: it makes me anxious.)
I watched his hands. He wrote me a balanced poem. Libra for my birthday month.
A man with a vocation.
He is going to fill halls later, I thought.
He won’t need a stall in a farmers’ market although he may still want one.
People are going to press around him in great halls.
Women are going to swoon and write him dreamy and ridiculous letters which his publisher will pass on, laughing.
I will remember him, I thought. Marshall James Kavanaugh.
I thanked him, carrying my birthday gift away.