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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 2, June 2015

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Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


All in a Day



I. The Man in the Green Hat

My secondary occupation it seems is photographing families with their smartphones in scenic places. Naturally, it's an unpaid position and I usually volunteer when I notice them struggling with logistics.

Here before me now is an exceedingly polite Korean couple with a sullen male teen in tow. Having asked for my assistance, I take the camera-phone and arrange the view to be slightly asymmetrical so that the tall, resplendent cherry-bloom behind them will become a phantom member of their family as, in a matter of days, all its beauty will be swept away by winds and rain.

After I show them their picture and they thank me effusively, I walk away wondering: Will they remember the man in the green hat who held their camera, set the view and snapped it pro bono? No, of course not. They'll look at the picture some years later and remember the shape of a day that has become as malleable as putty,

     and by then the sullen boy will have most likely mastered un-sullenness as a young, responsible man attending university.

And perhaps on the strength of that photograph, one or both of them, separately or together, might one day traipse upstairs to his room, crack the door a little, gaze in from the hallway a moment, then close it:

     everything leaves a trace, and somehow mine will remain inside that photograph, as evanescent in time as a cherry petal.

Like a convivial conversation,
the cry of a lone bird or a passing desire,
the way the wind lifts
the long trailing branches
of young willows . . .

II. Presence

The night is clear and the stars plenteous. A retreating moon shines dimly but enough to ignite the sparkle of mica mixed in with the tawny sands of the small beach. A quiet lapping of wavelets and my own footsteps are the only sounds.

I have lingered here after twilight, for often in the presence of a large body of water after dark, when clad in the fresh, cool, silken robes of a soft spring night, if you are not entirely under the sway of reverie or lovesick, you might leave your name and personality behind awhile to make the best of your natural senses.

When I look down and notice how starlight sees itself in the watery hoof-prints of deer, I decide to sit quietly on one of the large boulders an ice age once rolled to where it now sits, and wait for them to appear.

And after a time they do, creeping shyly out of the pitch-black forest. Betrayed by a crackling of leaves, the elder secures the shore for his does and fawns. The large muscular buck with a surprisingly small rack makes his way to the water's edge, bends his elegant neck and drinks.

The north shore is a-glitter with houselights. It can't be easy for the deer to claim a little patch of forest here and there for themselves, and the heart blues a little with a vague sense of shame.

When all have had their fill, a few stand motionless, heads up and gazing out over the water as if in awe of its celestial quiet, part of the deeper joy in their bellies, loins and bones that spring has come

     and then the herd, which is the home they carry with them wherever they go, closes its door as they slip back into the forest like apparitions . . .

     and I make my way up the trail with a flashlight.

Behind far houselights
what deceits and betrayals,
what unbridled love, what devotion . . .
moonlight
on the flanks of deer

Tonight
the true distance
between the bison of Lascaux
and the Newton chair
is but a Planck-length long

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end

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