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A Most Unusual Poetry Reading

March 29, 2016

I don’t usually talk on airplanes. I don’t try to be rude, but, it’s hard to hear. You’re going to be with this person for an hour or two and then you’ll both literally go your separate ways. Why invest the time to get to know someone that you’ll never see again. That’s what made my recent trip to Shreveport, LA so unusual. 

He was in the aisle seat when I walked on the plane. It was one of those small jets, a CRJ200. So, there were only two seats on each side. Honestly, he looked like anyone’s grandfather. (Which he turned out to be, but I’m getting ahead of the story. I don’t remember his opening question, but it was probably, “Where are you headed?” 

He didn’t have a book, a magazine or anything else that might entertain him for the hour and fifty minute trip from Atlanta to Shreveport. “Here we go,” I thought. “He’s gonna want to talk.” Okay, no worries. We were sitting at the gate. The engines hadn’t made attempts at conversation an exercise in PROJECTILE TALKING yet. 

One of the first things he mentioned was that he’d graduated from Julliard, the famous music school. I love music, but I was never in danger of being accepted into Julliard. The conversation wandered as we pushed away from the gate. He mentioned that he’d written an anthem for choir. Not only did he mention it, he quoted it. . .and it was beautiful. “This Place My Anchorage,” hauntingly blended imagery of the sea with images of Jesus Christ and eternity. 

How odd to be sitting next to an 84 year old man at 30,000 feet somewhere over Eastern Georgia listening to him quote poetry. I mentioned that I had written songs for each of my 13 children. I’ve written them in a book. I had it with me because I’m working on putting it into a book of poetry. 
He read stories about my children as I recited the lines. An impromptu poetry reading. He complemented me on adopting ten children. His had three children, two daughters and a son. His son died from cancer. He would have been just about my age had he lived. 

I still don’t talk much while on a plane. But, every so often, it’s a good idea to put away the noise canceling headphones, and find out the story of the person sitting next to you. Noel Tipton  and I are both glad we did. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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