I was at a reading, not sure who the readers were. The room was filled with all ages. The young crowd, with glistening skin and shiny hair, as if dipped in gloss. They sat tall, enormous, laughing and showing off white teeth, looking at each other—how could they not?
An older crowd, too. I’ll just say it--less beautiful. Gray haired, gray faced. One woman with stringy shoulder-length gray hair and thick glasses, a thick body. An older man hunched over his plate of food, eating with fierce determinate, subtracting everything else in the room. Another older woman, who had the resignation in her eyes of someone who’d passed through many difficulties. Time, I thought, had done a number on her.
It was her, this woman who I’d lumped into the unbeautiful, the old, the one who had weariness encircling her, it was this woman who was the reader for the evening.
She stood at the microphone, adjusted it to her height, and began to read. Quickly the room grew lush with green grass and longing for children, the blue sea and hot sand, a Latina fortune teller and a red sparkly curtain, gambling and a father sitting in the casino, barking orders with a New Jersey accent. The sun shone in through the windows and a small tree sighed in the wind. This woman was standing up there, turning herself inside out. It was incredible! She was reading, turning the room into something green and blue and sparkly red, and her hands were moving as she spoke, as if she was conducting a puppet show, as if she was sculpting something in thin air, as if she was spinning glory. She was glory, gloriously beautiful, and by the end, when she bowed to applause, I had taken it all back.
Causes Nina Schuyler Supports
National Resources Defense Council