Last night Ben Harper, bathed in indigo,
gave himself to a sold-out crowd in Geneva.
Six encore ballads, and still, he couldn’t find
his way. The music was perfect—simple gift of
self—but his consternation— as he looked out
into the darkness, this is what he saw: misdirected
enthusiasm, passion for sound and not meaning.
Love of the body and not what breathes it.
We saw it—in the triangle between
someone’s jaw and their shoulder, in the flickering
image between arms raised in adulation, we saw him
stand still—how a dream of compassion
can disappear into a smoke ring. Being rooted to
the floor by the closeness of bodies all pressing in
made us sleepy. And profoundly sad.
The incongruity of our reception with what you gave…
it was like the spotlights moving over the bodies
in the mezzanine, how they moved quickly,
indiscriminately, too fast for anything to come into focus.
Though there was light, we still couldn’t see their faces.
And neither could you when you gazed up from your microphone.
When you stood at the edge of the stage and launched
your blessing into the smoke-filled air, unamplified,
we thought we could see you for real. We stood very still
and took you in, though it hurt. When you stepped back
and waited for the cheering to end so you could say
God’s name, that was when we knew. You.
You who had discovered our limits.
Kim Cope Tait lives and teaches in the Swiss Alps. Kim earned her MFA from Vermont College. Her poems have appeared Southern Indiana Review, Blue Mesa Review, Karamu, Bamboo Ridge and are forthcoming in Iota and Magma. She has a chapbook, Element (Leaping Dog Press, 2005).