an online literary magazine for extra pungent poetry and prose

Angela Townsend

Meet Me Where I Am

I have asked God to help me love meetings. Love speaks in funny accents, so I will accept “acceptance.” Love deals craps, so I will be happy to break even.

I do not need to be the Board member who tailgates meetings with pre-meetings. I see pennants flapping in her eyes. I slosh through her swim lanes. I straddle spreadsheets. I lose my balance and tumble between the columns. She calls an emergency rescue meeting to get me back on board.

I do not need to be the consultant who gloats like Genghis Khan when his ink soaks my calendar. His horde of hours takes no lunch. His locusts leave no gold leaf standing. He jabs his finger between the dawn’s eyelashes. He is still available during The Tonight Show

I do not need to need meetings, only to accept them. I do my begging down my own streets. I need to write alone. I need wolves on other mountains to approve across the distance. I need to pluck petals from prose until I love me. I need to simper at the page until the pencil has pity on me. I need to press my ear to solitude until a story splits the static. I need faceless editors to tell me I am beautiful.

Chairs and treasurers bare their faces and roll up wrinkle-resistant sleeves. They are secretaries of presence at long tables. I spelunk down my paragraphs in private. Those who meet speak full sentences in full view. I tell myself meetings waste my time. The people speak unedited ideas. 

I zip my fleece to my chin and glower at God. Meetings are inefficient and high in carbohydrates. Their agendas grab my ankles. Ninety minutes on Key Performance Indicators lock me down. Concepts deserving four words bloat to forty. I did not agree to these terms and conditions. My eyes go bloodshot with my red pen. I click it to the rhythm of resentment. 

I do not like myself in meetings. Outside, I dye the world purple proclaiming that people are icons. In the session, I descend to the haunts of hyenas and hecklers. I see sawdust where the present people see synchrony. I polish my anguish every time they say “alignment.” 

I am the magistrate who thought I was a poet. I am not present, though the image bearers are here. They have chosen faces over quiet. They have zits and frizz and six other places to be. They lean forward to hear each other’s semicolons. They stroll arm in arm outside the substance, dallying about Doritos and television. The agenda has no word for soul, so they compliment each other’s cardigans. They do not sentence anyone. 

I interrupt. People forgive me. A meeting gnaws the crusts off my day. It pays its debts in butter. I am not evicted for my exclamation points or earwax. We practice the wasteful liturgy of being people together. We enact the sacrament of being in the same room. We feed each other teaspoons of royal jelly. We could accomplish more in our cenacles. I will be grateful when this is over.

God has not granted my request. I will follow up with an email. “It was wonderful to see you.” “Your patience and insight are gifts in my life.” “I’m grateful we are in alignment.”

Angela Townsend is the Development Director at Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary. She graduated from Princeton Seminary and Vassar College. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Chautauqua, Paris Lit Up, The Penn Review, The Razor, Still Point Arts Quarterly,, and The Westchester Review, among others. Angie has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 33 years, laughs with her poet mother every morning, and loves life affectionately.