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 PRISM
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VOLUME FIVE    NUMBER TWO
CONTENTS
FICTION
What Has Wings
But Cannot Fly?     Michael Christie 4
Kleckner     kay parley 20
The Dead Sea Shell     stuart buchan 36
Testament Found in a
Bureau Drawer     Margaret atwood 58
POETRY
Three Poems     Leonardo olschki
(with translations from the
Chinese by li chi) 12
Four Poems john tagliabue 16
Jenifer Sleeping Stanley cooperman 18
The Zoo at Portland, Oregon marilyn krysl 19
On Being One's Age l. a. mackay 19
Praise     chawa rosenfarb-morgentaler
(with translation from the
Yiddish by the author) 30
War Sonnets, History 101     lorraine vernon 34
Three Poems     j. michael yates 35 Two Poems     jozsef attila
(with translations from the
Hungarian by
JUDITTE SARKANY-PERREt) 47
Death of a Poet red lane 48
Graduation Day peter such 50
Targets william r. slaughter 51
Two Poems bob brophy 52
The Tarrying Place julia maria Morrison 53
El Hada Prodiga     antonio de undurraga
(with translation from the
Spanish by dora pettinella)      54
Books and Periodicals
Received 66
Contributors back cover WHAT HAS WINGS BUT CANNOT FLY? MICHAEL CHRISTIE
Dear Uncle Billy,
I would put this letter in writing but you might not understand
it because I'm not very good at it even though I am in grade four.
I like printing better anyhow. Besides I haven't been at school for
three months and you have to practise every day to be neat. I could
get my Mummy or Daddy to bring home my penmanship book from
my desk but I don't really want it. What I like to do just about best
of all is draw. I do birds, cows, horses and rainbows. My teacher
Miss Pavelich says I'm good at birds. Birds are about my favorite.
Yesterday afternoon one flew onto the foot of my bed and was
there for about a minute. I don't know what kind it was but it
was small and yellow like a budgie. If it was I'm glad it got away
because I don't like to see them caged up.
I'm sick and I wish I could get up and play with Celeste Ganshorn
outside again. At one time she used to visit me a lot but I hardly
ever see her any more. We used to roller skate together on the
tennis court down the street. Do you know what she said once?
She had 3 speeds on her skates and she could go slow, medium
and fast. All she had to do was touch a little tiling near the place
where you put in the key. I didn't believe her but she thought I did.
Every time the doctor comes he takes my pulse and Mummy and
Daddy stand by my side and look worried. The doctor always says
that I am doing fine or as well as can be expected. But I don't feel
anywhere near the same as I did before I got sick and had to stay
in bed. Most of the time I feel sleepy or just tired. The last week
I haven't felt like painting even. I play Old Maid and Chinese
Checkers with Mummy and Daddy at night and that's about all.
Lately I haven't been eating much. I had a bowl of oxtail soup for
lunch today but didn't eat it all.
Well that's all for now. I think I'll go to sleep for awhile. By the
way my Daddy reads your column regularly and says you are the
composite fart.
Yours Cordially
Elvira I wrote this letter several weeks ago, and I was fairly certain
Cardew (Uncle Billy) would read it because I didn't tiiink he was
important enough to have a secretary. But it was never sent. As I
look at it now I'm of the same opinion as I was then when I felt it
didn't have enough introductory nuisance value. I'd hazily thought
of some other gambits, each one getting more and more dramatic.
An item would appear in the personal column. It was going to
read: UNCLE BILLY WANTS EXECUTIONS TELEVISED.
ELVIRA. Next, cabs and food deliveries would call at his home
regularly at strange hours, and I'd phone him and say that it was
Elvira and laugh like a maniac. After this I'd hire someone to put
sugar in, his gas tank and maybe throw a rock through his front
window with a cryptic note attached. Naturally the police would
patrol the area carefully and I'd lay off for a couple of months
until they thought it was no longer necessary. Then I'd have a great
yellow ELVIRA (perhaps with an exclamation point) painted on
the side of his house. He'd be getting nervous by now, and I'd begin
sending him ticking clocks in Christmassy parcels.
But these, as I say, were hazy thoughts, and I suppose my dislike
for him is just as hazy. My dislike began when he found Grade's
ball on the sixteenth at Capilano Golf Course. I used to play there
two or three times a week before I got leukemia. Now I'm too weak
to do hardly anything. I just he here in this hospital bed at home,
dreaming and thinking. Cardew was corning from behind, and
when he stopped to help what immediately irked me was that he
did it in a gallant way. He was tall and movie-handsome: all teeth
and eyebrows, and a straight, no-nonsense-about-it nose. I'm not
particularly ugly, but whenever one of these types is around I begin
wondering if I shouldn't have drunk more milk or eaten all my
vegetables when I was a kid. I honestly don't know what Gracie
saw in me. God knows, my personality doesn't make up for my
lack of looks. As far as that goes, my mother, Mathilde (I call her
by her Christian name because it's very modern and sophisticated
and she doesn't feel so old), says it's colorful to the extent that I'm
usually in a black mood, a blue funk, or a brown study, and she's
right. I'm not much of a talker, and when I do say something, more
times than not nobody wants to hear it. Occasionally I try a little
self-therapy by trying to promote discussion about the crazy dreams
I'm always getting. For example, I told Gracie the one where my
pillows were transformed into dual rectangles of throbbing protoplasm with thick, bloody veins bisecting each other — as if the
insides of a large animal had been stamped through a machine, and the nerves were still alive and twitching. She made a face, and said,
"Fuzzy, that's revolting — you're drunk." But I was perfectly sober.
Gracie stuck with me for six weeks, which is a record. When I
first met her we got along all right. That was at one of Mathilde's
parties, and she was constantly smiling at me over her glass. We left
early and got respectably epigamic at a dim bar which had STEERS
and HEIFERS printed over the bathroom doors. After that closed,
we wound up at her place, an entrepot of junk and free samples, as
I remember it. She worked in a travel bureau on Hastings Street,
and on one wall was an airline calendar with a quadroon stewardess
siniling through the fuselage of a jet flying in a clear blue sky. On
the opposite wall hung a beaten-up guitar. Below this was an
oatmeal-colored chaise-longue, and by the entrance to the kitchen
were two of those uncomfortable bamboo chairs where you either
have to lean forward or sit well back. She said she'd thrown some
terrific parties, but I couldn't see it. Get more than six there and
you'd die of suffocation or, at the least, maim yourself on a piece
of driftwood or an empty Ruffino bottle on the floor.
Everything went smoothly right to the bedroom. But in bed things
became difficult. After a little coaptation trouble, and a sudden
hiatus while I got up to twiddle the handle of the toilet, which was
making a hell of a racket (that's one of my habits), we were off.
But, to put it politely, it was medal play: the score accounted only
for the total number of strokes and not the winning of individual
holes. It ended in a tapering, mutually apologetic exhaustion.
She never smiled at me over her glass again after that. The only
reason she kept going with me that I can figure, was that she was
after my money. The legacy of four million dollars from my Aunt
Louise, who succumbed last year at the Davis Cup finals, was certainly not classified information. And that, as any girl with enough
brains to spread on a cracker should know, is worth a few death-bed
months of sweaty liaisons, if not orectic memorabilia.
But not Gracie. I suppose she wouldn't have taken me for any
price. When we met Cardew on the sixteenth that was our last
time together. As we worked our way up the last two holes she'd
come to the stage where she was treating me as the bad brother.
She kept hushing me when Michael Cardew was talking because,
she said in an aside, he was one of the most fascinating men she'd
ever met. I was unusually garrulous that day, and when I made a
few sarcastic remarks about his white golf shoes distracting his
putting, and not to forget to pick up his tee, and telling him to
practise with an orange under his armpit so that his left arm re- mained straight, I could swear she was on the verge of saying,
"Fuzzy, don't be cheeky," as Aunt Louise and Mathilde used to
say to me three decades back.
After the game, Gracie asked him to join us for a drink in the
clubhouse and I was forced to be a confrere in the dressing room.
We took off our golf shoes together, he nattering away about God-
knows-what, while I said nothing. We even urinated together, side
by side. I intended to embarrass him by not washing. But he was
impervious. All he did was rush away, after thoroughly cleaning
his hands with a paper towel, and say, "I've got to make a quick
change. I won't be long. See you in the bar."
When he arrived at our table, he was wearing a white turtle-neck
sweater and a navy-blue sports jacket. He'd just become a member
and he was trying to act like a veteran. It was so irritating. If you
want to be blase you don't bother to dress for the bar. I bristled
(yes, I did) when he told us he'd sign for the drinks because we
were his personal guests. I noticed that Gracie smiled at him over
her glass. So help me, if he'd pulled out a briar pipe I would have
got violent. My second and last step-father was similar, and he
was in the house reading newspapers for six months until Mathilde
finally got fed up with him and gave him the usual cheque, twenty-
five thousand dollars. It was well worth it, as far as I was concerned.
God, what a mess he was! Tweed jackets with leather patches on
the elbows; shirt collars that stuck up; tie off-center; scuffy shoes
with black stitch arabesques on the toes. He filled the place with
the smell of pipe tobacco, and at every turning there were ashtrays
filled with several well-burned, long wooden matches. I've never
met a bigger clod. He got one beautiful scream when he tintinnabu-
lated for the maid.
Cardew had a relaxed, confident manner. When the drinks came,
he pushed his chair back and crossed his legs. Of course there's
nothing inherently wrong with this, but I wanted to throw something at him anyway.
"I write a column," he said, in answer to Gracie. She was going
to ask him before, but she thought it might be nosey. But now that
we were all sitting down having a drink she thought it was all right.
"A kids' column. You know, printing birthday lists, riddles, pen
pals, that sort of thing. I'm Uncle Billy."
The rest of the while we were there I never uttered a sound. I
knew if I opened my mouth I'd be sarcastic or cheeky, and without
a very good reason. I'd look like a real heavy making smart remarks to someone who respects people's wishes, subscribes to theories, and
suspends judgment.
Suddenly it began to shower, and we left quickly because I said
the top was down on the convertible. I'd had enough. I didn't want
to hear him say that it did the flowers good anyway.
"You were very rude, Fuzzy." Not cheeky? "You never said a
thing."
You can't win. I asked her if she'd have dinner with Mathilde
and me. "I'd like to go home," she said. All the way from Capilano
Golf Course to her place, way out in the Dunbar area, she never
said a thing, and I didn't break the silence. I was feeling tired, and
I thought sulkily that if she wanted it that way then it was her
nickel.
When I let Gracie off that was the last time I ever set eyes on her.
And one of the clear parts of my dislike for Cardew is that, I believe, he was the catalyst of the break-up. It definitely wasn't me
entirely. I know, I've had trouble with girls before, and very few
came back for seconds. When I phoned them they were washing
their hair, just stepping out the door, had a sphtting headache, had
a hard day at work, or their feet were tired from shopping. There
was no outside influence — they simply didn't go for me. I once
took a prostitute, who was being impractical in a weak moment,
to see Lawrence of Arabia, and, afterwards, even she wouldn't have
anything to do with me. She said she could make five hundred
dollars a time from a guy who liked to bath her with a scrub brush,
and another guy who jumped out of a coffin in a room with just a
candle burning. Beside these two customers, she said Vancouver
was a dull, cheap town. She meant me, but that was before I got
my legacy. However, she did permit me to drive her to the airport
and see her off to Los Angeles.
I'm not exactly sure why I took her because I got a rash, listening
to her talk so blithely about the subtle tasks of her trade. I'm very
sensitive and I get these rashes quite a lot. I used to break out all
the time when Aunt Louise came for one of her frequent visits. She
was one of the most superstitious persons I've ever met. You left a
place by the same door you entered; photographing birds in the
house brought bad luck (she was emphatic about Mathilde getting
a budgie so the temptation could be resisted); if you put something
on inside out you were supposed to wear it the same way all day,
etc. Once I told her I hadn't done this, and in the last twenty-four
hours my cuticles had been acting up. She called me a bad httle
boy and I'd got a lot of cheek from my father, who was up in heaven watching. Oh yes, he was. Aunt Louise said there were spirits everywhere. In the oven? Oh yes. In your tea cup? Of course. In my
bedroom? Certainly. In the closet? Everywhere. They were always
watching. You had to be careful. Aunt Louise was very careful. She
was very thorough on omens and superstitions, and in case there
were any she didn't know, or unwittingly violated, either by her
fault or someone else's (such as a person passing her on the steps),
she wore a small, protective bouquet of cyclamens pinned to her hip.
Aunt Louise made me very nervous, and as a result I got an angry
red rash around my legs, ankles, and wrists. Doctor Pusey was in to
see me yesterday and examined my rash. He said it was just nerves
and I should be calmer. But how can you be calm when you're
going to die in three or four months and you want to five? And
there is no escape in sleep. I'm so nervous I'm not even too sure if
the dreams I get haven't happened or are going to be (if that makes
sense) honest-to-goodness happenings. Take the dream about the
Mother Goose matinee. There was myself, Aunt Louise, Mathilde,
and two shadowy other persons. We couldn't get five seats together
so Aunt Louise and I sat a couple of rows behind the rest. In the
middle of the first act, Aunt Louise bent over as if she were going
to vomit. And then a sharp, piercing blast of a whistle. In the terrifying silence a metal object placed roughly in my hand. Two ushers,
a man in a tuxedo suddenly by my seat, flashlights spotiighting me
and everyone staring. Aunt Louise laughing and apologizing for me.
I wake up then. In another dream Mathilde chases me around the
house with a boiling kettle of water, screaming, "Cheeky little
brute!" In yet another there is the sound of footsteps coming up
the stairs. They pause for a moment at the top, and then begin
coming toward my room. The surreptitious treads are accompanied
by the sound of knitting needles. Who is it? My God, I don't know
anybody who knits! Click . .. Click ... Faster. Click-click-click-
click-click-click-click-click. Helpl The door crashes open. I wake
with my hair drenched in sweat. The alarm clock is ticking in-
nocuously.
If I don't have any wild dreams then I don't get any sleep either.
There's always someone around to do for me because I'm so weak.
It takes all my strength to walk to the bathroom. But an hour ago
I found out that I would now have three (count 'em, three) doing
for me. Sally the maid had just cranked down my bed and I was
lying flat on my back, about to doze off, when in flounced Mathilde
with a swirl of pastel silk ribbon. Her face was flushed and I could
easily see that she'd put away a group of martinis.
10 "Fuzzy," she whooped. "I've brought you a visitor. Nasty old me
picked him up at the golf course not so long ago. You'll be fascinated
by him. He's an absolute dear. A real find. He's so handsome.
Oh!" She was breathless with excitement, and a comma of bleached
gray hair hung stupidly over her eye. "You'll just adore him."
Cardew came in after her and stood in the doorway, looking a
little sheepish. "We've met, Mathilde," he said.
"Good, good" she said, clapping her hands. "Fuzzy, I've asked
him to take the downstairs bedroom for a while. How would you
like that? You'll have more company. We're going to get married."
This sudden astonishing announcement made me gather enough
strength to pull myself up on my elbows. "What?"
"We're going to get married. Michael and I. I might be a few
years older, but we have a lot in common. Don't we, Michael?" He
nodded. "We both have a twenty-six handicap," she elaborated.
I stared at them both for a long time and then sank back down
on the bed. Such frivolous creatures. "You're a vindictive old
woman, Mathilde," I said.
For a moment her eyes became slits. Then she turned to Cardew
and said with forced gaiety, "He's always kidding like this."
"Oh, that's all right," he said. He smiled and turned red.
"I want you to be nice to Michael," said Mathilde. "Don't you
be cheeky."
I was resigned. "I wouldn't think of it," I said. "Maybe I can
give him some ideas for his column."
"I'd appreciate that," he said brightening.
They both beamed down at me. Cardew was suddenly his relaxed,
confident self. And I suppose you can't be any other way in front
of someone who has green blobs on his pyjamas as big as Parker
House rolls.
11 —
Three Poems by Leonardo Olschki
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12 Translated from the Chinese by LI CHI
Friends of Leonardo Olschki will still remember the slender
volume of his Chinese poems. He had asked me to translate them
into English for him. I did not do it because as I said to him, he
could do it better himself.
When I visited Kate Olschki in Berkeley, she persuaded me to
render these poems in a language that she understands and I promised to try. As Christmas drew near I remembered my promise
and also Leonardo Olschki, who died about that time in 1961. I
put his poems into English and in doing so had the pleasure of
re-hving the pleasant hours we had together reading Chinese poetry
and discussing the Chinese poems he wrote.
I am grateful to Professor Donald Hall, who took time to read
the translations and suggested a number of changes which I adopted.
L.C.
OLD AGE
An old man is like an old horse,
Hesitating in the wilderness.
He knows the road but no one follows,
He perks up his ears but no one calls.
He often feels tired without a cause.
An old horse is like an old man.
13 1
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HUNTING RABBITS
Learning Chinese characters
Is like hunting for rabbits;
A hundred make their escape,
But one is captured.
14 WINE AND INK
The Han poets are often drunken,
Sweet wine washes away their melancholy.
Writing poetry requires no wine,
Ink too, can disperse sadness.
15 I
Four Poems by John Tagliabue
HIGHER GESTURES:
"Hieroglyph" which means literally "A Sacred Carving'
Carve this word out of a mountain
or make a design in water, with a stick, or a leaf, or boat,
or take your Hindu hands and make messages in the air
and then do a handstand and proclaim with your feet
and then return to Aum and walk about a bit
and as you do this with a Muse
or a hurdy gurdy man or guru
or world provoking friend or tea
master remember your very body
is a sacred carving of the Day.
THREE POEMS
i.
Who
is breathing...
the heart moving, the chest going up and down, the world palpitating,
every thing expanding and contracting,
what beast, bird, child, person, god, sea? when
you starting
give names
to these Events
you will be writing all the poems.
From the voices within the leaves from the darkness
between the leaves and the voices of children
in heaven in the Light
Chant like the dew
chant like the praise first heard from the dead arisen
chant like the swaying flower held by the priests on their way to God
chant like the buzzing and mysteries that make every second
of our life
16 Resound
O lovers
like rain
over the earth over the stones
in the rivers in the oceans
Chant
like the sun
held in the hand of the swooning God.
Why are you Shaking Momentary Wonder?
Each cricket
each planet
each person
each person's Discovery or Illirmination
or gracious moment of child or Mask making
is given a certain time to rhyme on the motion of these atoms;
see how the
atoms are praying!
as they dance in the stream of the stream of the Dream.
I? JENIFER SLEEPING
Something delicate, like tears
of morning gnats
infuses substance into
empty space,
and from the reach
of here, pillowed
into skull,
my eyes can touch
your sweet combustion,
breath held in you
by arrangement of conceiving
darkness.
All is perfect, properly
informed
that this small
distance
between our wedded dreams
deserves our praise;
yet knowing that you sleep
swift as mercury
and private as the stars,
my waking weaves
into itself
panicked rainbows... .
a taste of blue spiders,
their webs
forever fixed
between my unreasonable
arms.
STANLEY COOPERMAN
18 THE ZOO AT PORTLAND, OREGON
Today no pretty girls are here and hawks
huddle in cages of wire and wind,
the snake shivers and all finned things
bubble through the mire of their sleep.
Red stags refuse to nudge these bars,
remembering sharper saplings, the hind
broken and spilled over the rutted ground:
somewhere, not here, there's fire.
Their silence is a brutish peace, but I
feast on what's at hand and while I waste
at large they increase caged. Least
is best, for the lioness unlaced
lies warm and full, but hunger follows my food.
My breath only clouds the bars of their freedom
as caught outside captivity, I pace
the concrete cold of my open cage.
MARILYN KRYSL
ON BEING ONE'S AGE
Hard as it is to admit the drying up,
To admit the slowing down, the fading out,
The shrinking in of enjoyment, and the doubt
That the coffee's worth the trouble of washing the cup;
Hard as it is to avoid the showing off,
To slim the plump anecdote by several pounds,
And remember to keep within respectable bounds
The whisky breath, and the tobacco cough,
Not to resent rude youthful courtesies,
And never too audibly to grind the teeth,
Hearing, "Isn't it remarkable, at his age!"
(Quick temper in the young, in the old is senile rage)
Not to believe 'the sword wears out the sheath'
Is decent behaviour at least, hard as it is.
L. A. MACKAY
19 KLECKNER KAY PARLEY
This story isn't about Kleckner, any more than The Hurricane
was about a hurricane. When Nordoff and Hall wrote The Hurricane they wrote about people, and a way of life, and the effect of a
catastrophic crisis upon human fives. That is Kleckner's role in this
story, for around a mental hospital there are some human beings
who can precipitate as much of a crisis as any hurricane. When
human temper breaks its chains, urihampered by inhibition, unbound by gentle ties of kindness and responsibility which keep some
of us civilized, then of course there is a mighty storm. It is not so
beautiful as a hurricane, and it is no safer. It has vvdthin it the
elements of fate, of the unpredictable. It howls, it waxes stronger,
it breaks, it ebbs. It blows itself out. A quick turn of events can
mean the difference in the social climate of an entire ward for days,
affecting the lives of the hundred patients crowded there.
Our hospital had become a relatively quiet place at the time this
incident occurred. It might have been due to tranquilizers, but we
liked to think it stemmed from improved environmental conditions
and the attitudes of well-trained staff. But it was still an institution
for the emotionally disturbed, and seclusion rooms still came into
use on refractory wards, when a patient went up the pole and
needed to be isolated from the group for his own sake or for the
sake of his fellow patients. We gave the rooms the colloquial name
of "side rooms." On some wards we would work for weeks and
handle no disturbances which couldn't be calmed by a little attention and understanding. Where patients are respected as individuals
and their quarrels can find a ready mediator, much cause for violence is removed. But we did have our hurricanes, and Kleckner
was not the least of these.
For many years local folklore had persisted with a story that the
most dangerous patients in the hospital were epileptics with psychosis, and the belief seemed well-substantiated by experience;
yet it is doubtful if it was ever tested for validity. In any event, there
21 was a small handful of epileptic patients whose periodic disturbances
had often menaced the staff. Foremost in this small but awesome
group stood Kleckner.
Kleckner was of less than medium height but he was a husky
man, with a bull neck and powerful shoulders. He was subject to
sudden moods of hate, jealousy, and suspicion. Had he had the
intelligence to understand his problems, his peculiar emotional
makeup would have rendered him unable to keep his temper under
control because it stemmed from a real physical disorder and a lifetime of emotional maladjustment. Kleckner was a deaf mute. His
only means of communication with the world was the written note,
and when his mood swung to black there was no approaching him,
because he would then refuse to read the written word. He seldom
saw far enough into the future to make plans to conquer obstacles
in an acceptable fashion. On the night of his admission he broke
a pop bottle that came to his hand and cornered the doctor in an
office while staff reinforcements were gathered from male wards
throughout the hospital. It was his simple and direct method of
handling annoyance.
Kleckner was a sunny man with a sunny smile as long as nothing
stood in his way, but even at his best he had very little frustration
tolerance. When he wanted to go outside he wanted to go outside,
and it went better for staff who stood ready with the key. When he
wanted dinner he wanted dinner, NOW. When he wanted beer he
went downtown to the beer parlor, thoughtlessly running the risk
of being reported and brought back under escort. And when he
wanted milk for supper he wanted milk for supper.
Such a small disappointment roused the hurricane. When he
found no milk on the breakfast table, Kleckner found the patience
to scribble milk on a piece of paper and shove it at one of the
workers, but there was no milk. The farm delivery was late. It
didn't occur to Kleckner that he might accept the absence of the
milk. Instead he threw his dishes off the table and stormed from
the dining hall, kicking at chairs and door frames as he went. Had
he been able to make more than a few guttural sounds his language
would have been powerful. Staff and patients wisely gave him room,
but three male staff followed him along his frantic route back to
the ward. Once there, he stormed into the dayroom, threw around
a few chairs, and then armed himself with the lids of two ashcans.
They were sharp-edged rounds of stainless steel, about the size of
cymbals. A schizophrenic patient, too ill to realize the danger, stood
giggling stupidly right in his path. Kleckner raised the weapon in
his right hand to strike.
22 Our five male staff rushed him then. A patient in a furore can
fight several men. My female colleague was on the ward, but all she
could do was run as fast as her legs could carry her to the adjoining
ward for reinforcements. At last Kleckner was overpowered and
dragged into a sideroom. The sounds he made were like the roars
of a wild beast. His eyes were inhuman. His straight black hair, so
neatly-combed when he was well, was in disorder. His clothing was
torn. They cuffed him hand and foot and left him a mattress to
lie on and covered him with a blanket. When I returned from the
dining room I observed through the peephole while the men went
in to give him an injection, in case I needed to run for reinforcements again. I was a little afraid that he would cast off the cuffs
and break down the door. It was very strong, but so was Kleckner.
They gave him heavy sedation but it took no effect. Kleckner was
away to a long disturbance.
The staff had time to count casualties, and they found scraped
shins, bruises, and a quantity of scratches. Two of the boys had
lost skin from their faces and they were rushed to the sick ward for
penicillin shots. They came back painted up like Apaches with
merthiolate, and they were a couple of battle-scarred conversation
pieces for days. They teased my colleague for running away from
a fight, but they didn't mimmize the danger. They suggested that
female staff stay out of the dayroom unless there were several male
staff present, and not wander the ward too much alone.
"It's a kind of climate," the assistant supervisor explained. "A
thing like this touches off a lot of excitement sometimes."
There was tension in the air all day, and we felt uneasy when
we took our groups to occupational therapy, wondering what was
happening back on the ward. Kleckner's noises were still fierce, his
eyes still wild. A senior nursing officer decided that the staff had
neglected psychotherapy in the case, and entered the sideroom to
have a talk with the patient. Handcuffs and all, Kleckner gave him
a brutal blow in the face. I was surprised to learn that some of my
colleagues shared my strange sense of threat. It was as if that heavy
oaken door wasn't even there.
On the second day the episode began to tell on our nerves. The
story was repeated, full of colour. The men placed a guard at the
door when they took in his breakfast tray. They were not cowards,
but Kleckner was tough. Unless you had seen that face and heard
those sounds you couldn't imagine how tough.
"But he's a human being," they said. "They're all human beings.
Today you'd wonder."
23 No word of blame for his behaviour. No show of brutality toward
him. Just wariness. Male psychiatric nurses seem to come in two
categories: either the worst nurses possible, surpassing the laziest
of women, or nurses who take their work in stride with a skill and
ease beyond the capacity of any woman. I have sometimes been
overwhelmed by their great tolerance.
Our male aid sustained severe scratches to the back of his hand
when he took in the tray.
"If you lose any more skin you'll start to contract," they laughed.
It's the way you have to take things at the mental hospital. Only
an idiot would park his sense of humour on the shelf at such a time.
But the aid was spending his first summer in a mental hospital
and he was quite shaken. He was a college student, a good sport, an
enthusiastic leader of patient activities, and a beaver for work. His
reaction to Kleckner's episode surprised us. He became so silent he
was almost sullen. He went about with his eyes downcast and a
depressed droop to his shoulders. We girls worried about him a little,
but then we began to worry about ourselves.
During the first day of the storm a few remarks had been made
concerning our safety. On the second day it transpired that our
presence on the ward was unfair to the male staff. They still expected further disturbances, like a chain reaction, to be touched
off by the explosion, and women would be more than useless. The
men felt they would have to protect us, as well as the patients. The
staff situation really was inadequate. The five male graduates
booked to our shift were never on duty simultaneously and we were
about to enter a four-day stretch when days off would reduce the
graduate staff to three. Of these, two were older men, not in the
peak of health, who should not be expected to fight. We heard that
the male staff had decided to approach the supervisor and see if we
could be temporarily exchanged for men. We locked ourselves up in
the toilet and held a conference.
"They're cooking it up," my colleague said decidedly. "They're
not cowards and they're not helpless. They'd get floats in an emergency whether we were here or not."
"We'd look like quitters," I said.
"Women have worked this ward for ten months and never asked
off."
"We're not asking off. We're liable to be shoved off!"
"To ninety per cent of the staff we'd be asking off. They all
know about Kleckner, but they wouldn't have any way of knowing
the rest of the story."
24 "They're using smart psychology. Making it look as if they want
to be rid of us. Hard to know if they mean it or not."
"Neat," she agreed. "Let's be selfish about it."
"Game," I said. "We may not get away with it, but the least
we can do is refuse to go."
Our suicide pact came to nothing, because the supervisor laughed
when they approached him about our transfer. He had handled his
ward for several years and it would be kept under control without
exchanging staff. The women would stay. We were relieved, and
the men ceased to talk about it, except the ward aid.
On the third afternoon they took Kleckner out of the sideroom
for the first time and three staff walked him to the patients' washroom for a cleanup. He was subdued, but they carried a sheet to
immobiHze him should he decide to break loose. We girls locked
ourselves in the office and stayed beside the phone until they gave
us the all-clear. We discussed the possibility that we had been too
selfish. The ward was noisier, more quarrelsome. You could feel
the static snapping in the air. When I approached my group to
come to their activities I never knew if they would smile back at me
or strike. I felt as if I was walking a tightwire over the snakepit,
beginning to wonder if I would come to the end of it.
Every member of my group had been hospitalized more than ten
years, and they had all given up verbal communication except one.
He spoke in response to questions but seldom initiated conversation.
They made the sort of group which is an almost insurmountable
challenge to a nurse. They were strange, repressed personalities,
full of lost hope. Many a time the supervisor encouraged me by
telling me how much they had improved after two years of group
therapy.
"It's just that you can't see it in a few weeks," he explained. "The
change is slow, but I've seen them come a long way since we started
the group. Some of these fellows used to be full-time side room
patients. It takes time."
And I was being paid to give them a couple of months of time.
So we plugged ahead, making our beds, pitching and catching our
medicine ball, smoking our cigarettes, cutting With our fretsaws,
colouring with our crayons, going for walks and ballgames, and
having our thrice-weekly shaves. Plugging along. Trying to establish
a bit of trust in someone who had lost faith in all humanity. Trying
to get a guy to speak whose illness had made him withdraw from
conversation for fifteen years. We might be rewarded by a friendly
smile of recognition on a still youthful face, a gesture of politeness once in three weeks, a spark of interest when they heard a story
from Reader's Digest about a man who carved statues of rock in
the Black Hills. Getting guys who had paid no attention to their
fellow human beings for years to toss a ball back and forth with a
bit of laughter, or to sit together and play instruments in a rhythm
band. All this was reward. It was worth entering every day the
dismal grey-cement basement where the male refractory ward was
entombed. It was worth the danger. It was worth the ever-present
threat of Kleckner, liviner out his furore behind that locked door.
On the fourth morning, following breakfast, I went as usual to
the side room off the dayroom where my group slept, and began to
make beds. Two of my six patients could make their own beds with
persuasion, but I usually had to make the other four. The ward aid
stepped in to help me. He didn't really have time, because the boys
scrubbed the entire dayroom and corridor each morning, but evidently he wanted to talk. He was still worried about the girls. He
couldn't compromise with the attitude of the supervisor, or understand why a man would submit women to such a vulgar atmosphere
and to such danger.
"It's not as if you were toughs," he said. "You weren't spawned
on the waterfront. You're intelligent, educated young women training to be psychiatric nurses. It's blind and cruel. I don't get this
business of booking female staff to male wards anyway. Especially
a ward like this. What's the hospital trying to prove? That everything's so well under control that women can work on the worst
ward in the place?"
He made it sound as if we were working under a stupid dictatorship and lacked the sense to strike against it. In his first-season insecurity he was belittling everything we were doing, and it made me
angry.
"Do you tfiink the ward would be any different if we weren't
here?" I asked bluntly.
He paused. "No," he lied. Then he corrected himself. "Maybe."
"Then we must contribute something: to it."
"I think you contribute a lot. You make it more pleasant to
work here, more fun, something to look forward to. You have an
effect on the language we use, the way we treat the patients. You
can't help but have an effect."
"But do we contribute anything to the patients?"
"Indirectly. By having a good effect on staff. It's bound to effect
the patients."
"But not directly?" I persisted, burning with anger. I had tried
26 to give energy and interest to my group, yet I was aware of a sense
of guilt that my interest was less and my energy slack compared to
what I had used on other units. In the face of doubts, this coldblooded shattering of our work infuriated me. But I had liking and
respect for the young aid, and I wanted to get across to him the
vaguely formed reason I had for being there. It had something to
do with the contrast between the dorm we were in itself, and me.
Often I had felt that contrast — the funny feeling of being entirely
out of place somewhere, of being alien and looking very foolish. In
the group dorms it was always intensified. The walls and floors were
brick and cement, though the walls were now painted brightly in
the small rooms. The beds were low narrow cots, made up with
white spreads, stark and lonely. The ward smelled of sweat and
urine and the myriad odours of untidy human beings. The words I
could hear if I listened were often the last word in profanity. In the
midst of it, dressed in white apron over my student blues, with a
cap on my curly hair and lipstick on my mouth, I sometimes felt
rather fragile and beautiful, like a flower in the midst of the desert,
and every bit as likely to wilt and die unseen. Yet always on the
tail of the alien feeling came the other feeling: "I am here for a
purpose. This is not for nothing. I must have some influence here."
The new aid, uncertain of purpose and without benefit of any
training, had pricked my sacred bubble. I looked at his rakishly
scarred face and fought back the tears that wanted to come to my
eyes.
"I hope your attitude doesn't reflect the general attitude of the
male staff," I said. "Or we've been kidding ourselves that we do
any good here. What does a woman contribute to a home?"
"She makes a home!" he said. "She gives it gentleness."
"Maybe we can't do it here," I said objectively. "Maybe we are
wasting our time. But we can try. These guys have seen hate and
cruelty and ugliness. Can we do any harm by trying to show them
something else?"
"I haven't been here long enough to give me the right to talk,"
he admitted. "I should dry up. But from what the others say, female
staff made an awful difference to the male side, especially here. I
was just worked up. I wouldn't want to see my mother or my sister
left here while Kleckner was in a state like this."
"I'm a bad example," I said, still feeling sorry for myself. "I was
raised without men in my home and I don't know much about
handling them. Perhaps another woman would show better results."
"You do great" he assured me, tucking in a bedspread nervously.
27 I could see that he was experiencing not so much a change of tune
as a gradual evolution of thought. "Both of you. You do contribute
to the ward — a lot. But is it valuable to you, as part of your
training? These fellows are so slow about relating to anybody,
especially women. I wonder if it would be better if graduate nurses
came down."
"It is a kind of valley in my training," I said, suddenly realizing
that the slow pace of the ward had been frustrating, "But it will
be valuable for that very reason. You have to learn to change your
pace. If you can't relate to patients who don't talk, you don't make
much of a psychiatric nurse."
"I still don't see why you were stubborn about getting off. A
crisis is a crisis. Whole armies have to retreat at times."
I hate the misused military metaphor in connection with a mental
hospital, so I said flatly, "We are no army."
"What if the new program were held up a day or two? A week?
If it was held up ten years or a century we'd finally get there. Things
develop. Why did you make an issue of staying here through this?"
It suddenly filtered into my mind that he was actually concerned
about us, as people, but I was thinking of something else. We had
almost finished the last bed and the dorm looked bright and tidy,
but a line from a play came out of memory and repeated itself
several times. It was a line from The Corn is Green: "... if a light
should come into the mine . .." That was all.
"And then somebody else could fight our battle over again," I
said. "And either win or ask off, as you wanted us to do."
"It isn't really this situation we're discussing," he said, "It's a
principle."
"Of course it's a principle. If you lose courage once it's hard to
get it back. We've always got to hold the ground we've won."
"It's not that principle," he said. "Aren't you trying to prove
that you're as good as the men?"
I anticipated the thrust, and smiled. "Don't be an idiot." I said.
"We haven't the strength or the power of men and we could never
take control of a ward like this the way they do. If I want to prove
anything it's simply that women are needed here and that we have
a role here, just as they do. It's not better, it's different, and it isn't
formed yet. Maybe that's the real problem."
"I feel a bit differently about it," he said. "I'm glad I talked to
you."
"You know my father used to be a patient here," I said, as he
paused at the door. "It will help you to understand if I tell you
28 something else. My father lived for twenty years on this very ward."
I could see in the look of sympathy that came to his eyes that the
boy was going to give up psychiatry. It takes a certain kind of
stomach, and his was going to turn.
The next room was always a shambles because one of its occupants sat on his bed all day long spitting tobacco juice. I changed
his spread, turned his corners, pulled it tight. Then I noticed that
someone had stripped Kleckner's unused bed and laid out a pile of
fresh folded linen on the bare mattress. I pushed the bed from the
wall and got behind it, starting to lay out the bottom sheet. There
was a movement on the other side of the bed and I looked up.
There, big as life and properly dressed, was Kleckner.
I tried not to react. Should I slide out quietly and unobtrusively
or stand my ground? Then Kleckner smiled and gestured that he
intended to make the other side of the bed. I smiled back. My
heart went down to its proper place again. He was ok. They must
have let him out. Kleckner in control of himself is childish and
selfish, but he is not a threat to life and limb. He is very different
from the other Kleckner. That afternoon they reissued his parole
and let him go outside. It is better to reward his good behaviour
than to punish him for what is beyond his control. Kleckner will go
on and on, through storm after storm, and whether there will ever
be much change in a personality long warped and distorted in so
many ways is improbable. But as I said at the begirming, this story
isn't about Kleckner.
29 Praise By chawa rosenfarb-morgentaler
\ /b/C jrrf& ffi'hP   GoJfil
-  j-/o Ad  TKjpjswGJb A Sip °l^
mpJM |f| j»rt f>'3
orrfGft pi r^ii>r>   or^<T//>    Ky/^/^/ ||
ii*>*£ rtD ftft ^/sCW o/tj> ^urtiJcd
. /^5) ^ *>*'irc f±£J
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' C^fGXj ** /** /*>*
/ //^ jorj ffi'ff CoJ/J
OiJ   (jo£f r*»3 (To^rJ//ffc Translated from the Yiddish by the author
Praise likewise the day
standing still like a water —
A mirror without a reflection. —
Though hours that glide
through its hazy-pale surface
like breath-carried skaters
are shunning the lighted eye of awareness
erasing their footprints
before they are falling —
Praise likewise that day
you will never remember ...
Praise likewise that day
whose name you need to ask
and you are not sure
is it now, is it later
and all the accounts
with yourself and with others
are resting hidden
in white-and-gray sponges
and words that you utter
and words that you ponder
are like minnows
which fall through ripped net-holes
deep into the silence. ...
Praise likewise that day
when you feel no discomfort
of soul or of body,
when moving your limbs
you feel not their burden
31 j^jlp  ,„3 pre 6»3 p$
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. 6ij wm mm r"<fP ^ Af/
j ^/j/*p |§| ^ Bill ^
urJ//nS IP B§| ofJJy/^ y^do^yJ^ y? /*fc
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coV o£9 f>3 <Tfj6'o fir//
1 yo y+j J@ (£M<e)  <yry/f(
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1 /^cr jo^j) y>p'A y/J /A
l"3 Jr0J^ °'fi <V'° °^
OSJ'f/'fjifrQ) fl/c (T^rjrftT^/ft and you hear not the pulse
of the time in your bosom
and throughout your mind
reflections are swimming
like a thread
without knots or connections —
not bound and not torn ...
Praise likewise that day
when no letters are coining,
no tidings arriving
not good ones, not bad ones —
when silent the bell at your door
and the telephone dumb is
and the loudest of echoes
that reaches your being
is that of a kiss
which your baby gives you
with lips sweet like honey.
When down is the light
and the end is approaching
and sudden at last
you find yourself standing
in a gate of deep darkness,
look once more behind you
to that bubble of being
and praise it, that day
that drips out of existence
dissolving unnoticed
in the night of oblivion.
33 WAR SONNETS, HISTORY 101
I
I am a student on cold ground in world
affairs where I learn Causes and Effects
of War One and Two and irreparable old
mistakes. I wear on comfortable flesh
a souvenir of Alsace-Lorraine, a red
and gold cross, inherited from mother,
for which emblem I find Frenchmen bled
and two-thirds of the women lacked a lover.
I learn aggrandize, indemnity,
annexation and the restless Serbs,
the first Power Line-up of the Century,
Alliance. Coalition. Other words —
At recess, we leave the classroom and retreat
for air. Neither my neighbor nor I speak.
II
If an ideology can take men
to war, would an absence of the ism
promote peace, or is there a natural chasm
in minds of individuals that stems
from human differences? Men are brothers,
indisputably — through the flesh —
When they die, they die a single death —
There is no us or them or others.
Ideological differences? When the French
went to battle in the First War in red
uniforms, there was no separate stench
of rotting Germans who wore grey instead
and helmets to protect their heads. The trench
was one bloody colour when the isms bled.
LORRAINE VERNON
34 Three Poems by J. Michael Yates
CIVILIZED
I knew by the startling silence
In the streets inside me, an animal
Was entering the clearing:
One soft paw upraised,
One precise ear following
The sequence of closing shutters.
SENTRY
I patrol my
Small, shrinking
Wilderness. An
Imbecile duty.
Nothing out there
In the bleak,
In the blaze,
Threatens. Yet
Vines, the trees
Methodically go.
Perhaps
While I sleep.
Still I break, often,
From the growth,
Bellowing to stun
What kills a wilderness.
How to destroy
What has no
Knowledge of itself.
Before this Is . ..
An axe, I shall
Turn toward these
Strange last trees,
These changing vines.
*
A BEGINNING
Stiffly,
Just born,
An animal arose
Beneath the weight
Of darkness and the wound,
And set forth
Undistracted now
Along a lurninous line:
This burning scent of the hunter.
35 f THE DEADfSEA
SHELL
STUART BUCHAN
The bungalow was small and square with white walls. A
bright red-tiled terrace surrounded the house and there was a narrow strip of lawn which ended in a low hedge. Over the hedge,
the land fell away and you could see the white sand of a beach a
long way below. The sea stretched calm to the horizon. From the
rise of the hill where the house stood, you could see the white sand
bed beneath the water, the whole picture undulating constantly
with the gentle movement of the tide.
It was very colourful and quiet. It was the sort of place that a
year ago I had imagined going to with David. But he had wanted to
go to London.
"It's very fine."
The house agent, a dark Islander wearing the dark business suit
of the tropics, stood by the long windows that shut off the house
from the terrace.
"You want to see inside? Inside it's very fine also." He held up
a key to the french windows.
"Yes. But I'm sure it's what I want."
There were three rooms inside, a livingroom, a bedroom and a
kitchen. One part of the kitchen had been blocked off to install a
shower and toilet. Everything looked clean and neat and bare. We
went back into the livingroom.
"Yes," I said again. "It's just what I want. Are you sure I can
afford it? I wrote that I could only afford ninety a month."
The house agent smiled. He had red hair above his black face.
I remembered someone telling me that love children are always the
most beautiful and I wondered if somewhere in his family there
had been a love child or whether it had been a case of a master
taking a slave. David had had red hair too.
37 i
"You are very lucky sir," he said. "This house is only sixty dollars
a month." He smiled again. "I can see you are going to take it so
I can perhaps be honest with you. The beach is rocky and the
house is exposed. During a hurricane, no power on earth could
keep those windows closed unless you put the shutters up and then
you have to live in darkness until the storm is over. This is not,
unfortunately for us, a vacation cottage, but a wise man can see
other virtues in it." He looked through the long windows, past the
lawn and the hedge to the sea.
"Yes. Yes. I agree with you. As I said, it's just what I want."
I looked around the room again. It was, I supposed, mine now,
at least, for a while. There was a cane sofa with chintz cushions and
two chairs to match. A plain table in the corner with four straight-
backed chairs set along the wall out of the way was to serve as the
dining room. The floor was tiled and there was no carpet.
"It's not elaborately furnished," my friend observed as I looked
around.
"No," I agreed. "But it will do very well. There is no telephone?"
"Not yet, no. But there will be one eventually."
He had remained standing in the middle of the room. Sitting
down, as I was, I felt as though I were buying furniture in a department store, trying the piece while the floor walker stood by. I thought
perhaps he was anxious to get back into town to sign the lease and
get on with whatever business he had. But I was tired and it was
cool in the house. Besides, it had just become my home. Strangely, it
already felt as though it was my home. Perhaps because I had been
thinking for a year, constantly, of a house something like this. I
didn't want to move.
"Sit down," I suggested. "It is too hot to go right back out
again."
He started to pull one of the straight-backed chairs out from
the wall.
"Try an armchair. They're really much more comfortable."
He put the straight chair back with another of his peculiar smiles,
resigned to the fact that I wasn't going back to town yet. He settled
into the armchair and relaxed.
"You asked about the telephone," he said. His voice seemed to
have relaxed when he sat down. The detached business tone that
went with the dark suit was forgotten for a moment. "Do you need
a telephone? For medical reasons perhaps?"
"No, I'm quite healthy," I said, looking at him. "I just noticed
there is no telephone. I've never lived without a telephone."
38 "Ah." He crossed his legs. "I wondered about your health. A
year's lease is unusual, especially for a young man who is watching
his money."
"Maybe I am an artist," I suggested.
"Are you?"
"No."
His face shut down. For a few minutes, he had been interested
in me and his face had been alive and friendly. Now he saw I was
teasing him. I felt ashamed of myself.
So, "I would like to be an artist?" I offered. "I once thought
of it seriously, but I'm afraid I haven't the talent. I probably will
paint some while I'm down here. Mostly, however," I finished, "I
just want to think. It's hard to explain."
He foregave me without saying anything. He looked out the
doors at the dry grass and the warm sea and observed, "This could
be a very good place to think." And then, after a moment, "But it
could be boring too." He looked back at me.
I shrugged and agreed. It was a thought that had occurred to
me too. It frightened me for if I was bored it meant that I had
not learned anything from David. Tomorrow then could be another
David and after him. another still, always hating them, twisting myself, never learning the final lesson, the lesson of social reality that
had to be learnt.
I stood up. "If I am bored, I can always leave," I said moving
out onto the tile terrace. He followed me.
"Where would you go?"
I looked at him. It was a peculiar question. I had only known
him a few hours. He was quite solemn standing there beside me,
taller than I and darker. I didn't know how to answer. The truth,
negative as it was, was quite clear.
"Not home anyway. Maybe to England."
He moved away across the lawn to the hedge. "Would you like
to see the beach?" he asked, the solemn expression gone from his
face.
"All right."
"It's very steep. We shall have to take our shoes off." He was
already kicking his off. As he peeled off the blue socks, dark incongruously large feet appeared. He rolled up his trouser legs and
took off his jacket. He had on a short-sleeved shirt underneath the
jacket. He took off his tie and opened the neck of his shirt. He
looked like a very young boy standing at the cliff edge among the
ruins of his business dress. I kicked off my own shoes and rolled up
39 my slacks. He was walking around the side of the house. I followed
him. At the far end of the garden, there was a break in the hedge.
A narrow dirt path led down through the scrub that clung to the
cliff, to the beach.
He stopped by the gap. "Another reason why this is not a vacation cottage. Only the young can make it to the beach intact."
"Only the young should want to go to the beach."
"Perhaps. But you should see them at the hotel. Fifty years old,
and they wear a two-piece bathing suit." He threw up his hands.
"Follow me."
He started down, hanging onto the scrub trees with his hands,
his black feet slipped from foothold to foothold in the dust. I
went after him less successfully, holding tightly onto the low bushes,
my feet skidding out from under me at every step so I'd land full
length on the narrow path. Halfway down he stopped, looked back
at me, and laughed .
"You still want the house?"
"Goddamn it, yes." I called down to him. "I want to build up
my shoulders pulling myself up and down the cliff."
He laughed again and went on.
As he had said, the beach was rocky. Because of this, and the
descent to it, it was also private. The water looked beautiful, blue
and clear.
"What do you think?" he asked looking along the stretch of
sand and rocks.
"Beautiful."
"It is, you know. In the travel folders we advertise the clear
beaches because that's what people want. But they leave bottle caps
and suntan lotion containers and candy wrappers in the sand. None
of the tourist beaches are ever as clean as this one."
He looked proudly up and down it. And then added, "I swim
here myself. I did as a boy and I do now."
He walked towards the water. The sun was high and the beach,
enclosed on three sides by low cliffs, had bottled the heat. I watched
him walk out into the shallow water, then choose a necklace of rocks
lying just beneath the surface to walk on as the water got deeper.
The water only lapped his ankles. It looked as though he was walking on it. About thirty feet out, he stopped. Bending, he plunged
his arm into the sea to pick up a handful of pebbles. Then he stood
up and began tossing them slowly, one by one, out at the horizon.
"Hey!!" I yelled.
He turned.
40 "I'm hot. I'm going back up."
"Come on in the water. It's cool here," he called at me.
"No. I'm going up."
He shrugged. He let the pebbles fall out of his hand and ran
back across the rocks, splashing at every step.
"I'm sorry," I said. "But it's too damn hot for me."
"Yeah sure," he smiled. "Will you go first or shall I?"
"Go ahead. I'll follow."
This time he didn't wait but ran rapidly up the dirt path, reaching quickly from bush to bush to steady himself. It took no longer.
By the time I reached the top, he was dressed again, his jacket buttoned, tie in place, shoes on.
"Shall we go into town now?" he asked me.
I wiped my face with my handkerchief. "O.K. Do I have to
come back to your office to sign the lease now, or can I do that
later?"
We were walking towards his car which he had left parked behind the house. He stopped to lock the french doors.
"It's as you wish."
"I'd like to go back to the hotel first."
He put the key in his pocket.
"All right then. I shall drop you there."
We had reached the car, an old black Austin. He got in the
front seat. I walked around the front and got in the other side. The
car had been sitting in the sun for over an hour.
"God, it's hot in here."
"Yes." He started the car. "It will be better once we are moving.
Open your window."
I did so. He let in the hand brake and turned the car back towards the town. As we drove, I could see the ocean and the headlands across the water. With the car moving there was a breeze.
On the far side of the bay I could see what appeared to be a village.
I reflected that I would have time to go there and find out what it
was. I was no tourist. If things went well I would be here at least
a year.
We had entered the outskirts of the town. The view disappeared.
We drove past shacks and run-down homes for a short while. It
might have been any southwestern town, I thought. Slowly, we
were threading our way towards the business centre. We drove
without talking. It was so terribly hot. My shirt, in spite of the
breeze, was sticking to my back. As we drove deeper into town, it
seemed to get hotter. The walls of the houses along the narrow
41  streets were painted in bright colours, mostly white, but all shining
blindingly bright under the sun.. The only wind, I knew, came from
the motion of the car. Yet I felt that there were clouds of dust in
the air, everywhere, dust settling on everytning, getting into everything, clogging everything. I could hardly breathe.
"Stop the car."
"What?"
"Stop the car, please. I know where we are. I can walk from
here."
The car stopped abruptly. "Are you sure you can make it from
here?"
"Yes." I opened the door. "The beach is just down this street
and along the street that turns right, isn't it?"
"That's right. Well, I'll see you later then."
I shut the door. "At seven thirty. I'll be in the bar. Thanks for
everything."
He drove off. For a few moments I stood where I was. I felt
decidedly sick. And also very foolish. I wasn't mad, but in the car
I'd felt suddenly claustrophobic and dead, and, somehow, out of
focus, like someone out of one of those foolish novels, disconnected
with my surroundings, removed to some other plane of thought
while my body remained where it was. I had felt I was rotting
sitting there in the car. Dust was settling on the remains and very
soon a great stench would arise from the corpse.
"Oh, God," I said. "It must be sunstroke."
There was a stall selling straw goods further down the street. I
stopped there and bought a ridiculous hat designed in nobs and
tassels of coloured straw. Feeling even more ridiculous, I put it on
and walked along the side of the street that was in shadow. At the
end, I turned right and down the last street to the beach. There
was a broad boulevard between me and the sand, and further along
the boulevard on the other side of the street too, by the water, stood
my hotel, pink and huge, stucco and tile, representative of Empire
and ice cream cakes, a fairy palace in conception, I supposed, but
one that makes money. I crossed the boulevard and walked along
under the palms towards the hotel. The sand was clean of bodies for
it was too hot for comfortable sunbathing; the sea deeply, deeply
blue and empty too except for the busy white shape of the liner
that arrived each Monday from New York, at anchor out in the
bay, a tender jogging up and down at its side, little figures running
up and down the gangplank strung down the ship's side, coming
or sroins: or both: and along the boulevard cars and bicycle-taxis
43 and bicycles went by. Everything seemed quiet and normal. Even
I, in my ridiculous hat, belonged here. At least, I belonged as long
as I kept my hat on, I told myself. "Oh, that's ridiculous. You're
begging to feel sorry for yourself. It's sunstroke."
I had come to the hotel. I went through the wide doorway into
the cool lobby. At the desk, I asked for my key.
"... and could you have the doctor send me something to my
room for sunstroke."
"Sunstroke, sir?"
"It's not severe, I just feel a bit queazy."
"I'll see to it immediately."
"Thank you."
I went up the stately staircase to the first floor and along to my
room. The maid had opened the shutters. The room was filled with
a sunny holiday gaiety. A beautiful view of the ocean was before
me. I closed the shutters and undressed. Presently there was a knock
on the door. I opened it a short distance.
"From the doctor, sir."
"Thank you."
They were pills in a glass tube with the directions, "one every
hour" typed on the label. I poured out a glass of water from the
carafe by the bed and took one. After that I showered and then lay
down on the bed.
Everything was so quiet. There was no faraway hum of traffic,
no sound from the beach. It was cool in the room. Very slowly,
imperceptible even to myself, I began to fall asleep, and Eric was
saying somewhere in my mind, in the past, "... come to England
with me. Everything will be all right there."
At seven I went down to the bar. The sun had set, but of course
it was too early for the dark. There were very few people in the
bar yet, and I chose a table in the corner of the room that was
right over the sea. The windows were open and there was a breeze.
The big iron fan anchored to the ceiling above my head, that spun
slowly, slowly, slowly around all day in an effort to keep the air
in the room moving, was still. The waiter came to take my order.
In a few minutes, he brought me my drink and then went down to
the other end of the room. I noticed that the lights on the liner
had been lit, parallel rows of round yellow spots where the cabins
were in layers behind the white steel hull, long looped strings of
lights joining the masts that the ship didn't need but carried for
effect. It was all very festive and I could imagine the voyagers
dressing for dinner in their ten-by-ten cabins.
44 ?m^^P
From what I could see of the harbour, everything was peaceful
all over the island. The land stretching away from the hotel where
I sat was like dark arms reaching around the bay. It had looked
harsh and dry earlier in the sunlight, but now it looked cool and
temperate. It was a different land than it had been this afternoon,
I thought. Something happened to it during the day. It fell under
the influence of some force, the sun perhaps, and was tortured.
But it endured, and at night when the demon was gone, the land
regained itself. To live here, a man would have to accommodate
himself to this constant trial. Like a lizard he would have to learn
to creep into crevices, to he dormant, to gasp and pant the day
away, waiting, knowing that night will come and then he can
emerge, victorious, surely, for he has lasted another vigil, to scamper
across the surface of the earth, his earth until the sun returns.
"Hello."
I looked up. It was my guest, very dapper in a light grey suit. I
stood up. "I came down early. I'm already ahead of you. What will
you have?"
"A martini, I think."
"No rum punch? Nothing tropical?"
"No." He smiled. "We leave that for the tourists."
The waiter had followed him over. He left with our orders.
"Sit down," I said.
"How are you feeling now?"
"Oh, pretty good. I had the doctor send me up some pills when
I got back here and I took a rest. It was a slight touch of sunstroke
I think."
"Yes, perhaps it was. You didn't look at all well. I didn't like
leaving you there in the street."
The waiter had arrived with our drinks. He put them down and
left again. We sat in silence for a while, looking out over the water
at the pastel-shaded horizon. Just a few moments before, I remembered, while looking at the same view, I had been enjoying some
odd theory of a man living like a lizard. I wondered now what my
guest was thinking.
He didn't tell me. Instead he said, "I have your lease." He took
a folded paper from his inside pocket.
"Oh. Shall I sign it now?"
"There's no hurry. Perhaps you want to wait to read it." He
handed it across the table to me.
"Should I read it?"
"Yes, I think you'd better. We have a peculiar law if a man
45 r
signs something he has not read, then he is not responsible for it."
"I see."
There was nothing very complicated about the lease. I contracted
to rent the house for a year at sixty dollars a month, the payments
to be deducted each month directly from my account at the bank,
and return the house in reasonable shape. I signed it.
"Well," he raised his glass. "I hope you will be very happy here."
After he had finished his drink, he excused himself and left. He
had other business to wrap up tonight. The house was mine. We
shook hands again, and he left, walking tall and very handsome
in his grey suit out of the bar. He'd stayed perhaps half an hour. It
was dark outside now. The ship was only distinguishable by her
lights. Along the arms of the land fights had broken out too, like
freckles. Suddenly all the lights in the hotel were switched on also.
The few of us in the bar had been sitting in near darkness, in corners
by ourselves. Of a sudden, we were revealed to each other, individual, distinct. The band on the terrace had begun to play for us,
something sentimental, to pull us all in, to make us belong to some
single tiling, a mood maybe. It all went so aptly with the pink
sugar-icing hotel.
"I can't give you anything but love, baby," wailed the band to
no one in particular.
I felt I was going to laugh. If only David could have heard. Oh,
yes, I was going to laugh any minute, just a giggle, then a real
laugh, rolling on and on and on, filling the bar, rolling out into
the lobby, onto the terrace, across the water, over the whole island,
filling everything, the earth, the sea, and the night, one great laugh
rolling on and on, reverberating from the stars and the moon,
booming back at the earth. Oh yes, I was going to laugh, and dear
god, it wasn't sunstroke.
46 Two Poems by J'ozsef Attila
FAGYON VESZVE
Fagyon veszve, vagy ehen. Igy a sorsom.
Mar ralepett a labomra a tel.
Bordaimat kiallo leckent hordom
es kocmadzagkent log bennem a bel.
LOST IN FROST
Lost in frost, or by hunger, that is my fate.
Already winter has stepped on my feet.
Like protruding laths I carry my ribs
and within me like towstrings dangle the guts.
KULTURA
A virag elf aradt mar szagosodni.
Unta,
hogy mifenenek tettiik asztalunkra.
S igyekezett arnyekot vetni,
nagyobbat, mint a kertben
s elfaradt, mikor nem neztiink oda.
De eszrevettem.
CULTURE
The flower has tired of its smell
bored
wondering why in hell he was placed on the table.
And he strove to cast shadows
larger than those in the garden,
then waned, as soon as we didn't look.
But I noticed.
47
] DEATH OF A POET
It happened that God one day
while walking along the beach
came upon a sponge stranded in a tidal pool.
What are you doing? God asked.
Absorbing life said the sponge.
Tell me about life God said.
Squeeze me first said the sponge.
God reached down and squeezed the sponge.
Sun moon earth sky land sea said the sponge.
God squeezed the sponge again.
God man woman air ground water said the sponge.
God squeezed a little harder.
Creator father mother oxygen dirt rain said the sponge.
God squeezed harder.
All seed womb breath dust tears said the sponge.
God squeezed with all His might.
Squish said the sponge.
Is that all? God asked.
That's all said the sponge.
That's what you think God said.
Oh.
Well drop around later.
I'll absorb some more when the tide comes in said the sponge.
I can't make it God said.
How come? asked the sponge.
I've got a date with a sieve God said.
A sieve? said the sponge.
Have to keep up with the times God said.
48 Lucky bastard.
I wish I was a sieve said the sponge.
You are a sponge God said.
Yeah yeah.
Those sieves got it made.
Life flows through them all the time said the sponge.
Life flows through you too God said.
Yeah.
But only when something comes along and squeezes me said the
sponge.
Mnunm.
I see what you mean God said.
Yeah.
And I tell you it's pure hell sometimes writing said the sponge.
Well that's the way it goes God said.
Yeah yeah.
I know said the sponge.
Yes.
Well see you around God said.
Yeah.
See you.
Lucky bastard said the sponge.
Just a rninute now.
What's with this "bastard" bit? God asked.
Oh.
Well it's just an expression said the sponge.
Well I don't like it God said.
Yeah.
Well I don't like being a sponge said the sponge.
Okay sponge.
You asked for it God said.
And God changed the sponge into a grain of sand
and turned and walked away from the beach.
RED LANE
49 GRADUATION DAY
In the eye of the park
couples tempted pigeons
tempted squirrels
and were tempted
Mother is dead she said
It was well into fall
trees cast last offerings
a dull sun tolled
a blind bell sky
Her library books
would be two days late
A desperate fountain pushed at air
Caught by one wing
a summer kite
rattled like a moth to death
Only stony monuments
stood straight
Earth plucked at everything
PETER SUCH
50 TARGETS
I start from where I am,
scatter thought like buckshot
toward targets like birds
that range through the dark
beyond what I know.
Outcast like a hunter
roaming a distant field
with memory for a map,
I count on myself, aim far:
I am after what the world means,
must have that by heart.
Thought bums like brushfire;
I cannot wait for a signal like light.
As a retriever patrols the dark,
I track whatever I want.
I arrive again at what I know
and where I am. I stop.
WILLIAM R. SLAUGHTER
5i Two Poems by Bob Brophy
TO CHARLIE CHAPLIN
Charlie,
I too have read the script
and know
that if the technical director
has kept to his usual standards of efficiency
and his so careful crew (charged
with the barewired electrical memory
of the boss's last look of reproach)
has followed its orders
precisely as prescribed,
there is
waiting for me
twenty-four yards after my next turn
an open man-hole.
and yet (like you)
I too look always up
and walk
(taut-limbed, toes outpointed)
cane-swinging, adlib-singing
to deaf cameras
never to stop
until the ground
isn't.
JOEY'S POEM
When Joey rips the mirror off
the side of a car,
he doesn't even look
to see who's watching, but just
52 lays his hands
on the chrome-plated stem,
hops two feet in the air,        bites
his lip and
SNAPS it off.
Then leaving the mirror
and the moon
on the ground
he walks on...
so nonchalant.
And it doesn't even interrupt
the conversation.
*
THE TARRYING PLACE
Bored with thoughts of death, at forty-two
She snatched her mother's picture from its frame
And crushed it in her fist.
It snapped, cut by her nails,
Like a woodtick stopped
Before it learned the richness of her head.
This picture, Mother's grace at twenty-four,
Was not yet finished:
Pitched with a left hand's care
It floated on the trash —
A bottle stubborn, sealed,
Riding history.
But Mother had not vanished from the wall —
A space remained to show she'd tarried there
And every crack bore symptoms of her smile.
A painting of two geese
Was fixed over that place:
A skin of art and glue to cover death.
Now she is not bored. Her wall looks neat.
But the picture gets so out-of-hand at night.
JULIA MARIA MORRISON
53 EL HADA PRODIGA by Antonio de Undurraga
La noche fue voraz con la hija prodiga que regresa.
Y mi«ansiedad, mi agonia y mi dolor corrieron, tan desnudos
como el impudor de miseros fantoches de hojalata
sarcasticamente zarandeados por la lluvia.
Ella traia el clarnoroso lenguaje de la perla inf atigable
y una oscura sed de piedra regustando el proprio caos.
Mas, yo sabia que en todo regreso el desaliento sofoca la barbotante
y libre garganta de los caminos
y que en tu ser yacia la sed del diamante
que refleja el aqua de todos los caminos;
la mascara, fatigada de ocultar el ojo ubicuo de todos los caminos.
Y puse en tu ser mi cuerpo desnudo como un camino bianco,
porque ansiaba la primavera diminuta y tierna de tus pies
por el delicado ardor de su tierra en vilo;
pero el diamante de toda hija prodiga es cruel;
siempre hay en el un iman f astuoso
que enfoca los ojos del amante que trajo el primer camino.
j Pero es tan duro y lamentable ser la hija prodiga que regresa!
£ Puede, acaso, una reina desnuda lucir sus joyas y su corona?
54 Translated from the Spanish by DORA PETTINELLA
PRODIGAL FAIRY
Night was greedy with the prodigal daughter returning.
And my anxiety, my agony and pain ran out naked
as the immodesty of wretched tin puppets
ironically scattered by rain.
She carried the noisy idiom of the indefatigable pearl
and a dark thirst of stone tasting again its own chaos.
But I knew that in every return courage smothers the murmuring
free throat of roads
and that in your being lay the thirst of the diamond
reflecting the water from all roads;
the mask, wearied of hiding the ubiquitous eye of all roads.
In your being I placed my body naked like a white road,
because the small and tender fountainhead of your feet yearned
for the delicate ardor of its aery land;
but the diamond of every prodigal child is cruel;
a pompous magnet is always in it
to focus the eyes of a lover who made the first road.
But it is so cruel and pitiful to be the prodigal daughter returning!
How can a naked queen ever wear her jewels and crown?
55 Tampoco se ha hecho para la hija prodiga que regresa
la serenidad de la hierba que combate a la luz
y que halla en la noche supecho mas alto, intimo y melancolico.
El pasado se agrieta y deja la tremenda llamarada y grito,
la mueca cenicienta y torcida de un sequito de farolas
que a veces incendia un convidado, el que ha Uegado mas tarde.
Y la hija prodiga que regresa grita, salta, estira los dedos, y j que
bien sabe
que nunca nino algxmo pudo coger el hilo, tan en vilo
(la estatua de la Libertad tambien pende de un hilo).
de los pintados globos en ascenso, alia en la infancia... !
Y j cuan duro es llevar las verdes hojas — siempre prontas a perecer
de un reino
para ser la amante prodiga que regresa!
Y j pondre otra vez en tu ser mi boca desnuda y las mas altas voces
de mi cuerpo y de tu combatida tribu, hada cosmica!
Pero j no! Una hija prodiga que regresa no lleva, como tu,
una tan costosa capa imperial cuya cola se quiebra
en un camino de hierbecillas tan enerigicas, crecidas junto a nuestros
propios pies ...
56 The calm of grass battling light has not been prepared
for the prodigal daughter returning
finding in night high hopes, intimate and sad.
The past disintegrates leaving the tremendous flare and cry,
the twisted ashen grin of a sting of beacon-lights
often enflaming a guest, the tardiest one.
And the prodigal daughter returning, screams, jumps, spreads out
her fingers well knowing
that any young man can not capture the aery thread
(the statue of liberty also hangs by a thread)
the painted soaring balloons of childhood!
How difficult to remove the green leaves — always ready to perish
from a kingdom,
to be the prodigal lover returning!
Once more I shall place in your being my bare lips, and the loudest
cries
of my body and of your defeated tribe, cosmic fairy!
But no! A prodigal daughter returning does not wear, like you,
a rich imperial robe whose train is shattered
over a road of tiny grass blades so lively, so close to our feet...
57  TESTAMENT FOUND IN
A BUREAU DRAWER
MARGARET ATWOOD
In the evenings I play solitaire.
I have tried other things at various times, but none of them was
nearly as satisfactory. Most games, after all, depend for whatever
pleasure they may give on the trial of one's wits against those, however nfinimal, of a second person. Even something as cretinous as
Chinese chequers. (I am not speaking of games which are purely
a matter of chance, like Snakes and Ladders). The word-games are
not at all interesting when only one person is playing: I can't become much absorbed in the contemplation of my own verbal cleverness, and the element of guessing is removed. Chess problems are
much the same; however, I used to do them on the weekends until
I stopped taking the paper.
My crossword puzzle books I reserve for lunch hours. They are
so obviously something at which one does not wish to be disturbed.
So in the evenings I sit at the table by my cfining-room window
(I call it a dining-room, though like the dining-rooms in most of
these small modern apartments it is only an indentation in the
living-room; but you will see what I mean), with the Venetian
blinds drawn of course, though anyone observing closely must be
able to see at least my silhouette, since I leave the slats of the blinds
partially open.
I have a comfortable chair with arms, the same chair I use for
meals, and a cushion; and two decks of cards, one with yellow
backs and one with green. The patterns on the backs of both decks
are the same; a regular abstract design, with a floral border like
that of a Persian carpet, and two central shapes that are somewhat
like elongated hearts. They remind me at times of eyes. But if you
wish to see the cards they are probably still on the table.
59 The green ones are my favourites, but occasionally I have no
luck at all with them and I switch packs. You'd be surprised at how,
often that works; almost as though the pack needs a rest once in a
while. When my arms are tired, or when I get dizzy, I lean back
in the chair and look out through the horizontal bars of space between the slats of the Venetian blinds, out over the city spread beneath me. I am fairly high up in this location; in the summers,
when it gets dark quite late, I can see the harbour and the mountains beyond; sometimes then I raise the blinds. It never gets very
hot in this city; I seldom had to open the windows even before I
had the air conditioning installed several years ago; and now I
never open them.
There are, of course, many different types of solitaire, but I have
chosen to restrict myself. I play only two, alternately. I don't expect
you are farniliar with either of them; however, now that you are
here it is important that I explain the difference; that is, if you
are to understand everything the way I want you to.
My first game is the ordinary one. Before I start I shuffle the
green cards (or the yellow ones) thoroughly, though for this game
it does not really matter whether the cards are completely mixed or
not. But it sets my mind at ease to know that I have given both
them and myself every opportunity.
Next I cut the deck.
Then I set the cards out in seven piles, with one card in the first
pile and seven in the last. From left to right. The top card in every
pile is face up.
The procedure is quite simple. Aces go at the top and are built
on in ascending order and kings go in any blank spaces. Red goes
on black, and so on, in descending order. I run through the remaining cards (those that have remained in my hand after I have laid
out the cards in piles, that is) three at a time; I am allowed to
use every third card if there is a place for it. When each of the
aces has its own complete suit, I have won.
Actually it is easier to play than to explain.
Someone like you will find it difficult to realize how I can be
absorbed by an activity that is after all merely a sorting of coloured
bits of cardboard into ordered piles. According to certain set limitations. But it is the limitations that add the interest. In this version
for instance it is very seldom that I win. The important cards (and
their importance shifts from moment to moment) are often concealed somewhere in the face-down piles; and if no aces turn up, of
course one can't get far. At first (and I can hardly remember the
60 sensation) there was an overwhelming desire to cheat, to make the
pattern come out right by small manipulations here and there; but
now, if I am stopped at any point, I merely gather the cards together and begin again.
I can proceed quite quickly these days, turning the cards over
three by three with a rhythmic motion of the hand and arm. It
doesn't take me long before I can tell whether or not I am going
to win. But the figures on the cards are bright, the black and red
patterns harsh against the white; if I keep going too long I get
dizzy, the glaring colours seem to dissolve from the shiny surfaces
of the cards and float several inches above the table. Then I lean
back and try to keep from listening. . . .
I was going to say that the fascinating part is the entirely random
nature of the game. Within certain limitations of course. I can
never tell exactly how the cards will turn up; that's the most exciting part, waiting to see how they'll turn up. A line of kings, for
instance, blocking any moves is a challenge. Sometimes, especially
lately, maybe in the last two or three years, I'm disappointed once
I see that I am going to win.
You might ask, anyone might ask, Why don't you do something
else once in a while? Knit, for instance? Or read, possibly.
It should be obvious that I have nothing to knit (it is superfluous anyway, stores have taken the place of all that aside from
the fact that I dislike the sight of the activity; the fingers become
spiderlike, the wool forming a kind of tangled web around them);
or I should say, no one to knit for. I have relatives of course; everyone does. Mine are second cousins; I visit them at Christmas. But
they are no longer the sort of people that can be knitted for. Reading . . . certainly not magazines, they are far too sensational these
days; and I cannot tolerate fictions. Why are there no longer any
pleasant truths? I possess several history books, but I read them
some time ago. As for the other things, I do not want any of them
intruding into my apartment. At the office they know better than
to talk to me of such things.
But the other version. At first glance you would say it is the same:
certainly the goal, or what I may call the product, is the same: the
cards get arranged in their piles, in their own suits, hearts diamonds
clubs and spades, as usual. But actually this game is the reverse of
the other one. I lay the cards out face up so that all cards in each
of the seven piles are visible. The next card goes at the top, and
determines what is to be built on. For example, if I turn a four,
then all the fours are to go at the top, and the fives and sixes are to
61 go on top of them. And so on. In the piles themselves, red goes on
red and black on black. When there's an empty space things can be
put into it. According to certain limitations. The rest of the cards,
the ones remaining in my hand, are turned over singly, but only
once. I'm not allowed to go through the cards again.
You say this is more difficult. I assure you that it is easier, once
you know how; once you have learned when to wait and what to
anticipate. If you are very careful and proceed slowly you can win
this kind every time, because, you see, you have almost all the information you need; almost everything is determined. Sometimes
the card you need most won't turn up till the bottom of the pile,
or you will get too impatient and make a mistake. But I rarely make
mistakes any more.
And so I have been playing solitaire every evening, alternating
one game with the other. There is a rhythm with the hands too,
laying the cards out and turning them over. I had to do something
to pass the time, you see; it was a long time to wait.
You are probably surprised that I expected you to come; but
really it was predictable. Or should I say probable.
Let me put it another way: the event itself is inevitable. It is
you as, so to speak, an individual, who are what I may call the
random element. Still, you see I was right; I have learned to
anticipate.
I suppose it could have been during the day; weekdays, I mean.
I thought about that and did what I could to prevent it. I seldom
cross streets: the bus stop is on my side of the street (you will say,-
It could have been the bus then; but the buses in this city are much
slower than those in other cities) and the restaurant where I eat
lunch, when I do not have it sent up, is next door to the office.
However, even on that short stretch of sidewalk there was a person
crushed once by the fall of an overhead sign.
The food is only passable but I don't have to walk far.
I eliminated the people at the office. The women were out of the
question, though these days you never quite know about them either.
I took a longer time observing the men; I wasn't sure at first, there
was one in particular that seemed likely; but it has been a number
of years now since I had the company transfer me to this city (the
east, I thought, was getting too dangerous) and I have been watching them closely. I've decided against them. As a precaution though
I have been careful never to lose my temper, which isn't easy in
discussions of money. Lately I have diverted most of that work to
my assistants; I spend my days writing the necessary letters.
62 Though that, in its own way, is more dangerous: I can never
see the faces of those who receive them.
The office boys are always a possibility. They are transients, no-
one knows where they come from, and they seldom stay long. I
counted on the fact that they work, for the most part, in other
departments.
I assume then that you are someone I don't know; have never
seen. I may never see you; you may be too sudden for me. Many
times it happens before one can switch on the lights or even turn
around.
In the evenings I play solitaire. I could retire, I have enough
money invested in addition to the various pension plans; but what
would I do during the days? I prefer to continue at the office. I
sometimes think anyway (though it is against all probability) that
it may be a heart attack finally, or even (for instance) a fire in the
building. Though I have noted carefully the positions of all the
fire escapes.
Others have told me that I should travel, but why should I run
the risk of upsetting everything? I have never felt safe about planes
or boats. At any rate the coloured brochures with red and black
lettering and bright pictures of middle-aged women with flowered
garlands around their necks, or in straw hats, sipping from tall
glasses on a patio with palms, have never attracted me. The technicolor sunshine is deceptive, the guides have the look of herdsmen;
some undefined shadow lurks in the background behind the palm-
trees. They are unconscious, they sit in their deckchairs and smile;
they think they are safe because they have passed a certain age,
because they are fat or at least decidedly unattractive; that is why
they are selected for the pictures. Like the real ladies the only image
they recognize as dangerous is that of the succulent blonde in the
arms of the gorilla, something they think they are past being involved with. But when I still read the papers and was studying
these matters I was struck above all by the range of subject-matter,
the almost complete lack of selection. The mere fact of being a
woman — I recall one case of seventy-four — is enough. The watching eyes see only an open window, a silhouette, a soft shadow.
There would be no point in a mere shift of location.
Please don't misunderstand me. I have not wanted this; quite the
contrary. I have done everything to prevent it. Even this apartment
was chosen with great care: it is at the top of the building, almost
a penthouse in fact. The fire escape leads to the bathroom window,
which I always keep carefully locked. The janitor, I am certain, is
63 respectable; the district is a good one, though even in these comparatively well-lighted streets there are sometimes running footsteps
below on the sidewalks.
And I am certainly not tired of my life. Spring among these
mountains (and at this high window I seem truly among the mountains) --spring can be very beautiful, and the winters are not
rigorous; though, as they say, notixing ever dies here, and I do
miss the snow.
You wonder why, then, knowing what I know, I have not made
what people call better use of my time. Why I did not undertake —
what? — something, some worthwhile project, or at least fling myself (when I was younger, that is) into — some kind of activity,
what they call living.
For me sitting at the window turning the cards has been activity
enough; and, after all, this event we are now both so irrevocably
involved in is not like cancer or some even more gradual disease:
I could predict it, but I could not be exact about the time. An
interruption in a game like solitaire is not disastrous.
If I were at all superstitious I would study the configurations of
the cards as I lay them on the table in their dizzying bright rows.
The ace of spades, that might be dangerous; or, for instance, the
expressions on the faces of the queens, those linear smiles or semi-
smiles I have never been able to interpret; how many kings with
swords, or are they sceptres? But the cards are a rhythm for me, I
don't see them any longer as pictures. The bright table exists, I
arrange the cards in their ordered piles; I hardly hear what footsteps happen to pass on the sidewalk below, and it is far below.
When my eyes and my mind are filled with the glare of red and
black on white, then I can go to bed; I want above all else not to
hear the one small noise, the window grazing the wooden frame,
the hall door prying itself cautiously open at hinge or lock, that will
be different from all the other noises that surround me in this quiet
section of the city.
In the evenings then I play solitaire. I am waiting for you; every
evening I expect you. You will be random, as I have said before,
but you are also as determined as the hardness and rigidity of this
table. I have forced you into existence by the elimination of all the
other possibilities.
I wanted to explain this to you well in advance, though of course
for you it will not be in advance, and perhaps even for me it is not
as far in advance as I continue to hope. It may be tomorrow that
you will read this; or fail to read this; that will depend on your
64 thoroughness or your panic. You realize that there will be no money.
I hope you will be sudden.
But I wanted to see this down: that if you feel guilt at all (if
there is for you an emotion that you can identify with guilt) it
should be on your own account and not on mine. The victim is
always a circumstance — like a rock that falls from a cliffside, or
the rain. For me also nothing was planned except the general pattern; it was by chance alone that it happened to be you (and I
mean you personally), not someone else, who came to this particular place at this particular time. Although I have been moving towards this intersection always.
So that by me at any rate you are absolved. You have not broken
the pattern but have completed it. Naturally I would have preferred
to continue; but the possibilities were always limited.
It is important that you understand at least this much.
Now that we are, at last, face to face.
CORRECTION
The author of the story Descent in issue 4:4 was erroneously listed as Laurie
Swails, instead of Laurell Swails. We are sorry for this mistake.
65 BOOKS AND PERIODICALS RECEIVED
eadie, tom and tom Marshall and colin norman, The Beast with Three
Backs, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., Quarry Press; 63 pp.
everson, Raymond, At Split Rock Falls, American Letters Press, Box 356,
Norwich, Vermont; 1 p.; 10^.
finnegan, joan, A Dream of Lilies, The Fiddlehead, c/o Dept. of English,
University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.,; 64 pp.; $1.50.
livesay, dorothy, The Colour of God's Face, privately printed for the Unitarian Service Committee, 949 W. 49th, Vancouver, B.C.; 6 pp.
souster, Raymond, Four Poems, American Letters Press, Box 356, Norwich,
Vermont; 4 pp.; 25^.
wantling, william, Heroin Haikus, author's edition, printed at Fenian Head
Centre Press.
wantling, william, Down, Off & Out, Mimeo Press, Bensenville, 111.; $1.00.
Ante, No. 3, Poetry and Prose Quarterly; published by Echo Press, P.O. Box
29915, Los Angeles 29, Calif.; 49 pp.; $1.10.
Chelsea, No. 16, Literary Quarterly; Ed. Ursula Molinaro, Box 242, Old
Chelsea Station, New York 11, N.Y.; 163 pp.; $1.00.
Drama Survey, Summer 65. 3xyr.; Ed. John D. Hurrell, published by Bolin-
broke Society Inc., 800 Washington Ave., S.E., Minneapolis, Minn.; 192
pp.; 1 yr. subscr. $2.50.
Elizabeth, No. 8, Poetry; Ed. James Weil, 103 Van Etten Blvd., New Rochelle,
N.Y.;56pp.;$i.oo.
Figment, Broadsheet of Poetry; Ed. Douglas Barbour, 1580 Walnut St., Halifax, N.B.; 10^.
Kayak, No. 3, Irreg. Poetry; Ed. George Hitchcock, 2080 Laguna St., Sah
Francisco, Calif.; 60 pp.; $1.00.
The Literary Review, Vol. VIII14, "An International Journal of Contemporary
Writing"; published quarterly by Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck,
New Jersey; 576 pp.; $1.50.
Micromegas, Bi-annual Poetry Magazine; Ed. Frederick Will, 1425 Buresh
Ave., Iowa City, Iowa; 33 pp.; 60^.
Move, No. 3, Poetry Quarterly; Ed. Jim Burns, 7 Ryelands Crescent, Larches
Estate, Preston, Lancashire, England; 9 pp.
Outposts, No. 65, Poetry Quarterly; Ed. Howard Sergeant, 209 Dulwich Grove,
London, S.E. 22; 32 pp.
Perspective, Vol. 14-1, Quarterly of Modern Literature; Ed. Jarvis Thurston,
Washington University, P.O., St. Louis, Missouri; 60^.
Poetmeat, No. 8; Poetry Quarterly; Ed. Dave Cunliffe, Tina Morris, Screeches
Publications, 8 Woodfold Place, Lancashire, England; 112 pp.; 70^.
Potpourri, No. 4, Poetry Quarterly; Ed. Carlos Reyes, 68-A, Polo Village,
Tucson, Arizona; 40 pp.; 40^.
66 Radix, Vol. i, No. 3, A Literary Quarterly; Ed. Stephen Sherman, 163 College
Ave., Somerville, Mass.; 44 pp.; 75^.
Stylus,  Vol.   9:2,   Poetry  Quarterly;   Ed.   Student  Staff,  Temple  University,
1830 N. Park Ave., Philadelphia, Pa.; 504.
Sum, No.  7, Monthly Poetry Magazine; Ed. Fred Wah, English Dept., University at Buffalo 14214, N.Y.; $1.00.
Teamwork,   Vol.   1:6;   Ed.   James   Henderson,   68   Falcon  Ave.,   Edinburgh,
Scotland; 24 pp.; 2 shillings.
Tribune,   Vol.   29:15,   "Labour's   Independent  Weekly";   Lit.   Ed.   Elizabeth
Thomas, 222 The Strand, London, England; 16 pp.; 1 shilling.
Wormwood Review, Vol. 5, No. 2; Ed. Marvin Malone; Wormwood Review
Press, P.O. Boxes 101 and in, Storrs, Connecticut; 40; $1.00.
PRISM
international
Among the eminent poets, playwrights, fiction writers
who have appeared in PRISM international:
MALCOLM  LOWRY GIOSE RIMANELLI
ROBERT O.  BOWEN UMBERTO SABA
WILLIAM STAFFORD VICENZO CARDARELLI
IRVING LAYTON CESARE PAVESE
RAYMOND  SOUSTER BUDDADHEVA BOSE
YOSHIAKI   SASAZAWA AMIYA CHAKRAVARTY
HISAO KANASEKI ERIK LINDEGREN
JAMES RUSSELL GRANT
To subscribe for one year (four issues) send $3.50,
with your name and address, to:
PRISM international
DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE WRITING
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER 8, CANADA
67 C7IN7IDI7IN LIT€R7!TUR£
A Quarterly of Criticism and Review
EDITED BY GEORGE WOODCOCK
Canadian Literature is the only journal devoted entirely to the
study and criticism of writing in Canada. Its regular features include :
Essays on new and established Canadian writers;
Studies of past and present trends in Canadian literature;
Discussions of the writer's problems;
Autobiographical essays by Canadian writers;
Reviews and review articles on all current and significant
Canadian books in the fields of poetry, fiction, drama, criticism, biography, history and belles lettres;
A complete annual bibliography of Canadian literature, the
only one of its kind.
Contributors to Canadian Literature include not only distinguished
Canadian authors, but also many important foreign critics. Here is
a selection from those who have written in the journal during its
six years of publication:
Roderick Haig-Brown
Dwight Macdonald
George Woodcock
Kurt Weinberg
Wilfred Watson
Paul West
Jack Ludwig
Conrad Aiken
Jean Menard
Jean-Charles Falardeau
E. E. Bostetter
Eli Mandel
Northrop Frye
A. J. M. Smith
Ethel Wilson
Louis Dudek
Hugh Maclennan
Peter Quennell
Pierre Berton
Earle Birney
Max-Pol Fouchet
Margaret Laurence
Roy Daniells
F. H. Soward
Mordecai Richler
Nairn Kattan
Roy Fuller
Gilles Marcotte
Kildare Dobbs
James Reaney
Jean-Guy Pilon
Norman Levine
Malcolm Lowry
Robert B. Heilman
Phyllis Webb
John Peter
Keiichi Hirano
Arnold Edinborough
Bhalchandra Rajan
Published quarterly—$3.50 a year in Canada; all other countries $4.00
From the Publications Centre
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER 8, B.C., CANADA
68 CONTRIBUTORS  continued from back cover
kay parley is a psychiatric mine in Saskatchewan. This story is her first
publication.
chawa rosenfarb-morgentaler, who survived Auschwitz, is internationally-
known for her Yiddish poems, drama, and fiction. She now lives in
Montreal. Her translation in this issue marks her first appearance as a
poet in English.
juditte sarkany-perret is a Hungarian playwright and translator who now
lives in New York.
william slaughter's poems have appeared variously. He is a graduate student at the University of Washington.
peter such has published in Canadian journals. He is a graduate student at
Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
john tagliabue, born in Italy, now teaches Chinese and Japanese poetry at
Bates College in Maine. In 1959 Harper & Bros, brought out his Poems,
and his work has appeared extensively in literary journals.
Antonio de UNDURRAOA is a Chilean diplomat, critic, and poet. As a poet, he
ranks with Neruda and Huidobro, and is the representative voice of contemporary Chile.
j. michael yates is the author of stories, poems, and reviews. He teaches at
the University of Alaska. PRISM
international
CONTRIBUTORS
j6zsef attila, expelled from the Communist Party because his poems were
considered too amatory and ironic, is now regarded as the greatest
Hungarian poet of his generation. He committed- suicide in 1937.
Margaret atwood's poems appeared in our last issue.
bob brophy is a young Vancouver poet and actor.
stuart buchan's story received this year's Macmillan Prize, awarded for the
best story by a student at the University of British Columbia.
Michael Christie's wry Rolling Down the Bowling Green was in our 4:4.
Stanley cooperman teaches at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby. His poem
will be part of his first collection, The Day of the Parrot.
marilyn krysl's poems have been published in American and Canadian
journals. She lives in Berkeley.
red lane was among the most promising of British Columbia poets. He died
in 1964 at the age of 29.
li chi is a poet, scholar, and translator. She teaches in Asian Studies at the
University of British Columbia.
l. a. mackay teaches Classics at the University of California in Berkeley. He
is known in Canada for his poetic satires.
julia Maria Morrison's poems, drama, and reviews have appeared widely. A
Research Fellow in linguistics at the University of Minnesota, she will be
at Yaddo this year.
Leonardo olschki was born in Italy, and lectured in Oriental Languages at
the University of California after teaching at the Universities of Heidelberg and of Rome.
(continued on inside back cover)

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