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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 3, September 2013

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Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


The Long Grass

1. Intimacy

‘. . . what more can life offer
than the longed for unlooked for event when it happens?’

—Catullus

Thru the beating rain
thunderclaps drive a shivering
through the trusses—
how cold it is when you’re a room away
putting water on to boil

imageI’m going to the kitchen to make coffee, you say; how do you like it? As I gaze up at you having stepped miles inside your borders, you bend down out of your angel wrapped loosely in a blanket to kiss me.

And while you are gone, I listen to the clink of porcelain as you take down cups from the sideboard, the unceasing rain, the sounds of thick, glossy pages being turned in the monograph I’ve just taken up from the nightstand while I wait, The Book of Rivers . . .

With the ease
of a skylark gliding
from tree to tree
your glances devour everything
in this, our new country


Notes:
(1) The lines of Catullus were translated by Peter Whigham in The Norton Book of Classical Literature from 1993 edited by Bernard Knox.
(2) Image: Interior with Turkish Coffeepot (2012) papier collé.


2. Bottles & Jars

The old farmhouse,
that dilapidated ruin you rented,
was once white as a dove
till the salt-river’s fingers
stripped its clapboards bare

IMAGE. . . the unfurnished rooms without curtains, the dry, dusty emptiness littered with the petals of wildflowers you’d arranged here and there in bottles and jars,

the always-harsh music of our footsteps on the wide, cupped pine, dust-stars swirling before a window if anything should break the air, floorboards creaking . . .

and there by the stairwell in the one small bed under rafters high and spacious as a Coeur d'Alene sky,

I ran my hands through the rivulets of your long scarlet hair as time and desire braided us into one . . .

or it may have been the sound of the long grass that swished and crackled as we made our way down
from the old house to the river,

if not the joy of stepping blindly through the sun-warmed mud of its banks,
grappling cattails for balance
as we waded in after dark,

all of it having written the novel I am reading tonight . . .

and I would be ashamed to tell anyone but you
of how often I think of that bed, your hair, your warmth,
your laughter, the taste of your kisses, those nightly swims

or the image of our faces in the old, beclouded mirror
as we stood in the half-light of a summer’s eve
                                                                after love,

watching loneliness look back at us

                through our eyes


Image: Wading (c. 2006), assemblage of wood and printed papers.

3. A Sort of an Aubade

'Your attic room
              was no larger than a finch's nest
with one small window-peak for framing
              Aurora's rose-lit ways:

              this tiny space knew pianos well, and days
                            on whose quiet keys
              our fingers played with a subtlety
I've yet to comprehend

              though the time for study
                            nears its end.

Should we know and understand
              all the intricate works of eye and hand,
what would be left to guess?

I think of this
              as I watch you dress
to leave me for a week or two:

my love, we could not have known

              how what Pound had said
                            rings true,

that to 'make it new'
              would be the very thing

we'd fail to do.

* * * * * * *

Laughing hard
we slather the river's silt
over each other's limbs
for playing in her domain
we must do as the naiad wishes

We swam the channel,
pressed our footprints
into the ‘lion-coloured sand’
then hung our swimsuits up to dry
on the cries of a passing jay

Had we time & coin enough
I’d take you islanding
for a thousand years
with Venus the only lamp
between our door and the restive sea

Shambled home quite late—
spindrift in your flannel tide
I lay down beside you
on an elbow, cheek in palm,
blind to elsewhere, flushed with calm

Now a night of rain
enrobes us with its somber cloak:
over our shoulders
loosely then
we’ll let it hang

The long white beach
lies spread with glittering mica—
running my palms
over the myrtle’s wrists
another night hangs its moon


Note: 'lion-coloured sand' from Ezra Pound

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