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Life Arts

By the Lake

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By Edward Curtin

From flickr.com: 0I7A1721.
From flickr.com: 0I7A1721.
(Image by Murray Foubister)
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I saw them when going out,
Matted down like roosting geese
In the grass by the lake
Where they were lying still.
Their leader was instructing them
In tones so low no passing
Ear could hear a single word.
It sounded soothing all the same,
Although it also seemed
Like a conjurer's game.
I wondered as I hurried by
Why the need to decompress
To stretch their motley aging frames
In ways that only fashion
Could instruct, a shopper's feast
Upon whose table esoteric truths
Lay like the yoga pants they wore.
I might not need to tell you
All were strung-out women,
Yearning to adore the sun
That soon would rise to greet them.
And while I walked I wondered
Why tension held them fast
In his brutal arms, why
Stress had made a mess of them
And how often did they come
Here to find release of sorts.

Soon I reached the reedy swamp
That lay at the lake's edge
Where I stopped to watch
A heron balancing on one leg.
No arm was raised, no face
Turned up, she stood utterly
Alone, a Giacometti without a trace
Of angst or need to join a bevy.
When I returned and passed
The swamp, I jumped in shock,
The reeds exploded with her rise,
The massive blue wings beating air
Around my startled little head,
Her heat so hot she rose
High into the distant treetop.
I stood transfigured, a small
Creature, startled into awe.

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When I came again to where
The group of women had lain
Only one remained, standing facing east,
Hands joined in supplication to the sun,
Begging for a bit of life,
As if she were the sun god's wife.

I found it very sad to see
Such anxiety, a desperate woman's plea
For what I cannot say but think
May be some kind of calming grace.

I guess I'd say the gods are fey,
They only come when left to be,
Alone in their own company.

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Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/


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