Take a Poem to Lunch Day

This month is National Poetry Month. I’ve been perusing Magers and Quinn, dragging volumes home, memorizing sonnets, and trying to write my own stuff.  Today I decided it was Take a Poem to Lunch Day, and chose this one:

Instrument of Choice

By Robert Phillips

She was a girl
no one ever chose
for teams or clubs,
dances or dates,

so she chose the instrument
no one else wanted:
the tuba. Big as herself,
heavy as her heart,

its golden tubes
and coils encircled her
like a lover’s embrace.
Its body pressed on hers.

Into its mouthpiece she blew
life, its deep-throated
oompahs, oompahs sounding,
almost, like mating cries.

The goal was to not only introduce the poem to my co-workers at lunch time, but also entice them to put down their Jimmy Johns and memorize the beautiful thing with me. From the looks I got, you’d think I’d asked them to meet me at some truck stop for a filthy weekend. How about in high school? I ask. Didn’t you have to recite poetry in high school? Shakespeare? The Canterbury Tales? Yes, exactly, Victor answers. And it was torture.  Benita, still in college, outright refuses. She has a test on Friday. She doesn’t want to confuse the Latin names of muscles with oompahs. What’s the point? Adam wants to know. The point, I say, the point is that something marvelous happens. The poem begins to have more meaning. You feel it from inside you and it feels good. It feels sublime.  The way singing a song by heart feels better than sight-reading it. They agree in the end, not for my sake but because they want to finish their sandwiches, to each take a section, four lines. Boom. It’s done. For the rest of the day, we whisper pieces of the poem as we pass each other in the hall. We smile and we grin and by the end of the day, we each know the entire poem by heart. Sublime indeed.