I met the intrepid poetess Abigale Mott again today. It was a rainy tuesday and I was on my way to Powell’s bookstore to get the latest american release of the BAKUMAN manga. I bought volume one, two, and three for my friends birthday 2 months ago. I had started reading them and got hooked and now I’m up to vol 7.
Abi had set up her table and chair under the awning of Powell’s bookstore on the northwest entrance of the bookstore. Umbrella in one hand, other hand poised and ready to strike the keys of her typewriter. Wow, I thought to myself, “she must be a great one handed typist.” I gotta see this. How much is a poem worth?
She’s from Pennsylvania…, home of the Steelers. She’s on her way back home to decompress for awhile but her next stop is Colorado. She’s been to New Mexico to do yoga with the hippies on a mountain top. In San Francisco, she met a man who inspired her to write poems on the street for people to buy. She comments with glee “…it’s better than a day job.” Rainy days in the Pacific Northwest…, writing poems amongst the towering buildings in downtown Portland…, she yearns to continue traveling. Portland buildings are not towering compared to buildings in New York or Chicago but I put it i because it sounds better.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen her work as I sip my coffee from across the street at the Starbucks. As people read their poems and walk away, I see the smiles and joy these words evoke. How much is that experience worth?
Romantic Mist. Written Oct 3, 2011. It was raining and I had come to Powell’s bookstore to see if Bakuman volume 7 was on the shelf. It was not… She was not in her usual spot in front of Powell’s Bookstore. I think there were too many pan handlers in front of the store so she had to pick a different spot. I almost didn’t see her. It was raining and she had set up her chair and typewriter against a storefront wall/window (Anthropologie). She smiled recognition and I stopped to get a poem.
The next picture of Anthropologie was taken on 10/16. I placed it here to show you that this spot is actually a nice part of town. She wasn’t writing poems next to dumpsters in a distressed neighborhood in squalor. This is the Pearl District. It would be counter productive to go to an area of town where people could not afford a poem.
Back to Oct 4.
I asked her what she was doing after work and she said, “…I’m working till nine. Gotta get to Colorado…” I thought maybe she said that to make me go away but she said yes to my dinner offer. I went inside to get my Bakuman manga volume 7, then I bought her some tea with honey from the Starbucks across the street. She had a cough and said that tea and honey makes her feel better. After about 30-40 minutes (7:30 ish), she decided that there’s not enough traffic for poetry writing tonight. She packed up early and we headed to the Blue Hour.
We walked to the Blue Hour. The sounds of her shopping cart filled the air. The air smells clean when it rains.
We entered the Blue Hour and the host took her cart to the coat room. She was wearing all black except for a red necklace. I wanted to know more about her and her journey. She’s quiet but doesn’t seem to be shy. I called her a poet and she corrected me. She doesn’t feel comfortable with that label. Her humility is cute.
This next picture was taken across the street from the Blue Hour. There’s no big sign. No neon lights. This ain’t McDonalds. I have never eaten here before, but I have had drinks here once. Their Vodka with peach puree is the best. The sign is actually the glowing white circle above the stop sign on the left. Blue hour is a french expression which refers to twilight, that magical moment in time when daylight meets darkness or vice versa.
No more salmon? WTF! We were both going to chose the salmon. She ended up choosing the duck and I chose pork. It’s been a while since I had duck. She didn’t know if she had ever eaten duck before. I think duck has a flavor that you never forget. I’m glad she likes to try new things. Her plate was clean by the time I had finished mine. I’m usually the one that finishes first because, “….I don’t fool around when I eat.” HAHA!. I was talking too much…, or she was very hungry. People who know me will find the comment, about me talking too much, funny because I don’t have the “talktoomuch” gene. She must have been very hungry tonight.
I didn’t take this next picture. It’s from the Blue Hour website.
When we left, they had trouble finding her cart. How many carts could they have back there? They hid it well. I was amazed at how quickly they offered to take the cart to the coat room when we first entered. Abi commented how carts must be unusual for them. Usually they take coats and umbrellas to the coat room. How often do they see a shopping cart at the Blue Hour. I think this was a first. I agreed and commented, “I’m sure it will make a great story for him to tell his friends and family for many years.” I couldn’t tell if she smiled or not at that comment. My jokes are sometimes dry and the delivery was probably not that great. My friend Mark is the type of person who could tell a joke that would get one ostracized and shunned by society and make the most conservative person laugh at it. It’s all in the delivery. I won’t attempt to tell you one of his jokes.
Abi and I walked towards Burnside street. I pulled the cart as she smoked. I thought to myself, “where am I going?” I decided to just go with the flow and not put too much thought into it and enjoy the moment. She finally told me after a few blocks that we’re heading to the bus stop. On the way, we talked about travel and where we wanted to go. We reached the bus stop. The timer on the screen indicates the bus is 10 minutes away. There was a happy drunk trying to get change for a $5000 bill. Abi digs thru her purse for her phone. She received a message from grandma who said that she has relatives in Eastern Oregon somewhere.
As she enters the bus and as I walk away, I wonder where her journey is going to take her and what she will find. I wonder…, what I will find on mine.
During dinner she asked me if I had any revelations during my trip to Alaska…, at first, I did not think I had any so I gave a lame response…, but she later said something about family and friends that made me realize something that i had not thought before. The cold and remoteness of the Alaskan wilderness is harsh. Being out there for an extended period of time makes one homesick and it amplifies the importance and value of family and friends.
This is the poem Abi wrote earlier tonight before we went to dinner. Again, I let her choose the topic. This poem sums up her day…, writing poems in the rain and making people smile so that she can make enough money to buy a ticket to Colorado.