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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, April 2014

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Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


Sind Sie verheiratet?
(Are you married?)

1. Summer Winds

Sure, darling, stare off into the Great Beyond, and why not? You’re young and rich and beautiful. Even while flouncing about in that waterfall of designer fabric for which someone paid an arm and a leg, you’re still as light as a feather. Your square-jawed Adonis, dressed to the hilt in his black tuxedo, aims his eyes in a glance that speaks less of love than of holding the America's Cup. Your bridesmaids all attend you, each superbly dressed, each a vision, each as gorgeous and lovely as you.

I imagine a host of assistants scouring the Hamptons for the perfect house and grounds, for a pristine lawn brushed lightly by sea-winds born, like Venus, on a veil of distant whitecaps,

to line the models up, to hear the famed photographer say

image‘Sasha, a bit to the left. Devin, more teeth.
Isabel, move in closer to Alexis please.
Madelyn, give us a smile.
Click—click—click: got it.
That’s it. Let’s break for lunch, shall we?’

and somehow I understand why Cheever’s people drink
as I pore through the rest of my junk mail.

Though Hellenes once strode
this dazzling earth on Titans' feet
what more
have we learned to do
than gossip and paint their toenails?


2. Indian Summer (and a Line from Lucan)

‘. . . the fields are hushed, and so mid-sea is mute,
unmurmuring’

. . . and the waves are darkening as if an enormous net were being cast over them with a singing of hands as they heave it forth, bronzed, jubilant, distant.

The calm is so pervasive that you can hear the chirping of redwings as they ride the heads of sea-oats, heavy and pendulous with seed. Scissor-cut sharply out of the flawless blue, windmill palms along the boulevard stand dead-still as if they were waiting for burlier winds to lend them voice again, and end their confusion of seasons.

Out on the town pier, a young bride in her long white wedding dress hovers beside her groom. Like the tiles of a Roman mosaic, they stand encircled by those whose love and stories are inlaid inextricably with theirs. Being married by the sea, one must believe, will augur well. I married in springtime, a day I thought I’d lost in the blur of a long unspooling, a breath on the ear, a confusion of seasons . . .

imageuntil today.

Knighted, yes,
by your lavender fragrance,
your wind-dried sheets,
and by you whom I must now
rescue from me



3. Affirmation

"It isn't hard to understand," he said. "Think of
Rembrandt's painting, 'The Anatomy
Lesson of Dr. Tulp':

imagine that my marriage is the cadaver, and we stand round it
perpetually frozen, scalpels in hand, fearful to make an incision
lest we find out what it died of."

His confession loomed heavily,
a scorpion whose stinger was piercing
the skin of their budding familiarity.

"Should we go and have coffee, a bite to eat?" he said.

She stared at him overlong without answering,
a sudden breeze sweeping her long luxuriant hair over her eyes and
lips which she brushed aside
without taking her gray-green eyes from his.
She liked his metaphor while dismissing the message it carried.
She was also a writer, free and unencumbered, and more than
a little fond of danger.

image"Yes," she said, "Why don't we."

Most always it seems
in eelgrass flowing lightly
through my fingers
I find 'the horse' I'm looking for
'while riding one'



4. The Night and the Forest

He was going to get the mail
he said. It was dark by then.
The woods around their property
were profoundly still. It had rained all day
and its scent lay thick in the air,
the leaves of the sycamores still dripping.
A car passed now and then
as he walked down the long driveway;
because there were no neighbors for a quarter mile,
the woods across the road were a fortress of black.
As he shuffled his way along the gravel drive,
their slide and scrape betrayed his age.

A flock of Canada geese flew over
and their honking seemed to pass through his bones
as a harbor light pierces fog.

imageHe reached in and took his mail then leaned on the mailbox
with the flat of his hand, straining to hear the geese
but all was quiet.

He turned and looked at his house. A single
light burned where his wife sat, busy at her crafts table.
Some evenings they hardly spoke ten words.
When silence is confused with loneliness, he thought,
that's where the trouble begins.



A car hissed by, and he turned and watched
its red tail-lights disappear. With an uncharacteristic nostalgia he
thought about how he'd looked at twenty,
and how a single glance from her had sealed his fate.

Returning down the driveway
he took extra pains to lift his feet
so that he might fool the night and the forest into thinking
that a younger man was walking
and thereby fool himself.

Truth being a butterfly
I watch the black swallowtail
uncoil its long blue tongue
but all it leaves as evidence
is a wavering flower
How life flows
thru the narrowing waist
of its hourglass
thinning even
the best of days and nights


Notes:

Part 1:
(1)Image: Trace Element (2014) montage

Part 2:
(2) The introductory lines are by Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (39-65 BCE), called ‘Lucan’, from his Civil War as translated by Susan H. Braund, Oxford World’s Classics, 1992
(3) Image: Sea-light III (2010) montage

Part 3:
(4) The 'horse one looks for while riding one' is an old Zen precept.
(5) Image: La fin de l'été (2004) collage/assemblage (Summer's End)

Part 4:
(6) Image: Charm (2014) montage/collage

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