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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


from The Lost Wax VI

Weights & Measures

‘la clarté spéciale que fait la mer.’

—Paul Claudel, Préface

"Dear Jackson,

The spring sea off Tybee Island has bloomed into an enormous blue rose! Strong, steady winds ruffle the feathers of a large flock of terns crouching wing-to-wing on the sand, all facing the sea. With their orange and black faces, they resemble those strange creatures from the mind of Bosch. A slim, shirtless boy runs through them, and like a cloud they part and re-gather a few yards down the beach. Bored with their easy compliance, the boy with his makeshift spear moves on.

While I crossed the low, arching bridges between islands, history's sleight-of-hand returned a day to me as if it had never passed. The pearl of sea-light hanging over the greening marshes betrayed an unseen beach still six miles east. Egrets stood along the silty banks of winding estuaries, snow-white visions of shape and grace, their lovely forms imbued with a touch of Eros, as Lucretius would insist.

And though I lived here years ago for just a while, I feel I've come full circle: isn't it odd, brother? Has some parallel life gone on living here without me? Will I meet her one day, that other girl when she's out and about on River Street wearing a secret smile, oblivious to all that will never touch her? Oh the 'what if' of that dream! always promising a finer savor than the taste of my present circumstances. Ah sweet delusion!

I can't explain why I love it here so much, this one place out of all the others that somehow built a fire beneath my ribs, ever calling me back.

And this time I heeded, I came, but I don't know exactly why; perhaps it’s the notion of being part of something larger than myself, even eternal, where all of time and life converges in a single breath we feel privileged, however briefly, to breathe . . . which may only be the gift that a nearness to the sea bestows so freely, and perhaps the real reason.

Love you, good, good brother,
Caroline"

"This my sister Caroline had written me the day she'd arrived and checked in to a small beachfront hotel on the island. By the following afternoon she's vanished without a trace, her luggage still unpacked in her room, her car abandoned on a side-street that dead-ended at the dunes, the parking meter long expired, a parking ticket tucked under the wipers. I never learned of what those 'present circumstances' were. Her friends were mystified."

Then Jackson passed me the letter. Caroline's handwriting was elegant, almost musical.

'Dolphin days:
O what weights & measures
of sweet felicity come
when the scales refuse to tip
for the weight of one's private dark.'

How you were then, my sister,
merely a flicker behind my eyes:
through the late afternoon
in a car among hundreds
I smile, remembering you . . . then . . .

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