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I felt I had to go if for no other reason than to maintain my image as the local arts buff, which (I am sad to say) I depend upon for my pitiful income. The excitement I felt when I first heard about the reading quickly passed when I read the names on the program. Every town, even one as small as ours, has a drug culture. It seemed as though all members of our little subculture were to be the featured 'artists'.


It isn’t that I felt their addictions made them evil, or even repugnant. I just didn't feel up to another performance from some Burroughs 'influenced' junky. Does the world really need another voice droning on about mutilations and young boys? I digress.


That Friday night I made my way to the local bar. The usual patrons (beer swilling, gut toting, good ol' boys) had been replaced by skinny artsy-types who (I could tell just from looking at them) longed for the days when they could wear berets in public again. Ahh well, I will hold my tongue (if for no other reason than because I fit in with these sad souls).


Three readings, ten cigarettes and five shots later I was ready to leave. Just then a young woman (I will resist the temptation to call her a girl) got up onto the stage. You know the stereotype of a dirty old man leering at young women? Well, that is how I must have looked. When I regained my composure (and who knows how long that took) I found that my mouth was open. As unbelievable as it may seem, my thoughts never turned sexual. I was simply awe-struck by her beauty. I was so busy taking in her appearance (black jeans, white t-shirt, dirty-blond hair pulled back from round face) that I almost missed her name. T. A. Carpenter.


Now that I have offended the junkies, the writers and women amongst you I will get to the point. She was brilliant. Simple as that. At first I thought it might just be me (overcome by her looks), but all those around me were similarly entranced.


Her poetry focused on nature, and could have been set anywhere in Middle America. Each poem contained a comparison of the out doors to a church -- the sunlight on leaves to stained glass windows, crossing ones self with rain water from a small pool. These repeated references to the world as the true house of God were so simple and yet quite effective. She finished the performance by reading Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It had been so long since I had heard anything by Frost that I was taken aback. When she finished there was total silence. No one could move, let alone cheer. We simply sat. Silent. Waiting. Then she left.


Since that night I have looked everywhere for her work. It is impossible to find. There are no references to her; she has no history, no past. I even tried the internet, hoping to find some small cult following. But there is nothing. I eventually came to the conclusion that T. A. Carpenter (assuming it's not a pseudonym) had no desire to be published. That she has no need of recognition, and that small public readings were enough for her to keep going.


This node is for anyone trying to find her works, anyone who has searched. If anyone out there has heard of her, or has anything written by her please msg me.

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