THE NIGHT I DO everything wrong,
I let someone dominate the conversation early on
rather than moving it along.
I always look directly at whoever is speaking,
not at my watch,
but, without even knowing the time,
I feel my head
and everyone else’s
fixed in one direction too long,
and that I, as leader,
ought to redirect things,
but I don’t,
thinking maybe the story she is telling
is the story
someone in the group needs right now.
The night I do everything wrong
and hear my own voice too much toward the end,
and I see everyone’s head
fixed in my direction too long.
I am rescued by the least likely member
making a most powerful connection
by telling a story
that would not have come out otherwise.
It illuminates the circle.
The night I do everything wrong,
one stays behind
and shares a story
she would not have otherwise told,
at the end of which lies,
“Don’t stop offering the olive branch,”
the thing I needed someone to tell me directly,
and I remember why it is I love small groups
and am glad I stopped waiting to feel perfectly up to it
before agreeing to lead again.
On the night I do everything wrong,
I don’t rush out,
but walk slowly to the parking lot,
feeling at home.