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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014


Donna Buck
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, USA

Legion Hall

Do you hear what the stringed instrument says about longing?


My first time here and I am not sure what to expect. An impromptu first date with a veteran dancer and his friends who have been coming here for years. My dress shoes aren’t suitable for swirling so I bring in the walking flats I always keep in the car. They make me seem even shorter. As I watch the band warm up with the old standards, I wonder if I will pass muster with my handsome date. As they begin their turns on the floor, I am amazed at their agility. I plan on a long evening as an observer, determined to enjoy the music.

I look up. Someone outside our group hands me a large silver dollar. He tells me it is a good luck charm. He buys dinner for everyone in the group. As I order, I thank him and he shrugs. Says he owns a bank in Belize; it has done well this year and he wants to share the good fortune with his friends. His orange zip-up pullover appears sadly worn. I don’t get his name during the introductions. My date nods his head quietly in the banker’s direction and says, sotto voce, that “the banker” has a problem . . .

My good luck friend pulls me into a foxtrot to one of my favorite tunes. I look up at him, then down at my shoes. I lose my place several times. It must be the shoes. But he guides me gently, smiles, lets me pick up again. In his worn arms I move smoothly.

on fountain rocks
the sound of
falling water—
in the quiet pool,
sunlight on glistening koi

My date mingles mostly with his circle. When he does take me out for a staccato spin, I scramble to keep pace. He adjusts my arms into appropriate position. I jerk into the spins and return to my seat, breathless.

a waving hand
I know! Call on me!
so eager for the prize—
Sister Helen reminds us:
we can’t all be winners

As the band packs up we walk to our cars. My friend with the kind eyes and the bank in Belize is missing. My good luck friend whose Fridays are the highlight of his week.

with no place
to store them—
how bare these branches
after the storm

I want to find him, to give him back his coin. For good luck, so he won’t be forgotten at the end of an evening. I felt the skin hunger in the touch of his hands.

To thank him for allowing me to be Ginger to his Fred.

ripples on the lake . . .
a mallard blends
into sunset
echoes in Québécois
of Grandpere’s lullabies



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