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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 2, June 2013


Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA

Arrows, Images

1. The Jeffersonian Swivel

It’s walled in glass, neither square nor rectangular—diamond-shaped, a single room, no door. Wainscoted in the rich, lustrous hardwood of a palacio, inside it stands a man on a wooden stepladder hammering a last piece of crown molding into place. Vaulted by an intense cerulean sky, winds erase and reshape the fine white sands of dunes beneath it.

And then the room begins to swivel slowly, hovering above the sand without accelerating.

I turn toward the placid ocean, its enormous magnet pulling at the iron slivers in my heart. When I look back at the room, the swiveling has stopped . . . and the hammering . . . the ladder is gone; the glass room’s empty except for the man and a tripod on which an old surveyor’s transit sits.

He bends over to look through its long brass telescope. Turning its knob slowly, he focuses, smiles—the instrument beams its warmth. He trains it in my direction then stands up, open-mouthed on the verge of speaking:

imageI say, “What is it, Father? What do you see?”

Without answering he turns and faces the horizon, squinting as I do against the glare. The room begins to spin around him again, as noiselessly as Andromeda wheels about her dark, eternal spindle . . .

till twilight dissolves his outline . . .
then his body . . . then the room . . .

and I wake.

Arrows, yes,
we have arrows
but no bow
so we crouch on the shore together
preening our missiles’ feathers

Author’s Notes:

The swiveling chair, as the title implies, was invented by Thomas Jefferson.

Image: House of Dawn and Splendor, a montage)

2. Imago

Hardship he sent to you, and you must bear it.”

—Homer, The Odyssey, Book VI

Deed me a river
& a Warmblood to cross it—
on that farther shore, O king,
dub me Getae for a day unending
with the samaras of your sword

Along a path above the river, the long maple branch is clad with a velvety glove of moss; it grows low and parallel to the ground, so long and spindly that the slightest breeze makes it dance and quiver. Like the style of bonsai in which the artist half-buries a young branchlet from which a row of “trees” will sprout, this limb, too, bears several offspring pushing skywards, “from one the many.”

imageCurious as to why it had taken this “path of least resistance,” I trace its origin back to the half-sunken crown of its modest beginning to find that it is not a limb at all but the bole itself. A wedge of stone the size of an axe-head had barred its way and so the tree had simply swerved around it. Once redirected, it stayed low to the ground, thriving beneath a crack of sunlight leaking down through the oaken canopy sprinkling all its “saplings” with leaves. Still grieving for my father, the image is not wasted, for even a tree does not always do what is expected but what it must.

While hiking woodlands
where the Cherokee once lived
they lift
what I’ve been carrying
off my shoulders

for J.W., his father in memoriam . . . and mine.

Author’s Notes

The translation from Homer is by Robert Fitzgerald.

Image: The Hovering Lamp (assemblage/montage, 2012): “gnothi seauton” means “Know thyself.”

The Getae were an agrarian people who lived north of ancient Greece. Horace wrote about them in one of his odes, praising their highly moral and communal ways.



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