Lee Smith probably wrote poetry back in her student--or childhood--days, and she may secretly write it now, but I think she also writes poetry in her novels and shorts stories, and I have shamelessly used those to rev up my own poems when I felt my poet's engine running down.
Lee came to Asheville on Sunday to read from her new book of stories, Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger: New and Selected Stories. There was standing room only at Malaprop's Bookstore. Afterward I had time to visit with Lee and the woman who has brought her work to life on the stage, Barbara Bates Smith. Barbara's wonderful husband and my brother joined us for a glass of wine at a downtown restaurant.
Go to Barbara's website to learn more about her one-woman shows.
(Mugging it up with Lee at Malaprop's)
Here is the last paragraph from "The Southern Cross." Chanel, the narrator, (not her real name, of course!) has jumped off the yacht on which she's been cruising with Larry, the man she calls her fiance but who has never had any intention of leaving his wife, as she learns near story's end. She lands in the dinghy and heads for the tropical island nearby and a new life. "Going Native," she yells back to the astonished men on deck.
A part of me can't believe I'm acting this crazy, while another part of me is saying, "Go, Girl." A little breeze comes up and ruffles my hair. I practice deep breathing from aerobics and look all around. The water is smooth as glass. The whole damn sky is full of stars. It is just beautiful. All the stars are reflected in the water. Right overhead I see Orion and then I see his belt, as clear as can be. I'm headed for the island, sliding through the stars.