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49 zigal Thomas Zigal Weekend in the Golden West So beautiful, the dark evening sky sprinkled with starlight, thinks Glee, her oar dipping into the placid lake water, the canoe gliding effortlessly toward the obscure treeline ahead. So nice to breathe the clean crisp smells of the foothills, the pines like incense. She flashes on romps through this same timberland in childhood sunshine, sad that Robert couldn't be here to share this weekend, so hung up in Med School he has no time for her any more. It was a downer trying to love him sometimes, but sacrifice, she tells herself, is the true measure of all things. More with less, small is beautiful. Gordon rests both hands on the smooth, intricately carved skull at the top of his cane, fingering the polished wood like a monk with his prayer wheel, shifting his stiff leg for comfort on this silent barque's journey across the Stygian waters. Moonglow knifing the black lake into burning shards/Shadowed trees like fearsome juggernauts ahead. When they arrive at the cabin he will undergo a poem. He will give life to the drift of golden hair across Glee's muscled shoulders as she whips paddle from side to side, her eerie, snakelike tangles tongued by the impish wind. He feels the Muse tugging at his sleeve. In the rear of the canoe Allen paddles and broods, broods and paddles . He thinks of Suzanne in the other canoe, several yards behind them, their wake a soft shush in the night. She no longer loves him, he believes. Already there are hints that she wants to move out. She speaks often of Gordon, the dark haunting beauty of his poetry, the cruel honesty in his suffering eyes. On the drive up here they sat next to each other and spoke in reverent hushes like guru and disciple. Allen is not blind to the appeal — the lean body and flamboyant red beard, the mysterious injury and noble bearing, the quick wit. As yet he has no reason to hate the man. As yet, he tells himself. Like a Norse figurehead, braided blond hair to mid back, full bosomed, Mia kneels at the prow of the second canoe and strokes them onward. Now and again she worries that she is not In Control and that the narrow vessel will tip them into the brisk water. She Acknowledges Her Fear. Her counselor has told her that that is the first step. The second step is to Be There Now, or Go With It, to grip fear as one would the hard wood of this paddle and Work Through It, to Create a Safe Space for Yourself, Inside Your Own Head. She tries to Get in Touch 50 the minnesota review with the subtle rocking, the pinching breeze, the cold splashes against her hands and parka. She turns her thoughts to Gordon in the canoe ahead, how he kissed her playfully at a party last week and rubbed his cane against the back of her thigh. Her counselor has told her that it is Okay to Contract for one extramarital affair this year, as long as it's not serious. She wonders if Gordon can Play by the Rules. She wonders if her husband Bert will Escalate into violence when he finds out, or if, as he has staunchly maintained through every therapy session, he can Cope with anything. . . . unbelievable that the goddamn developers haven't bought up the property around this gorgeous little lake and turned it into some kind of Mickey Mouse condominium shit, with a pack of polyester weekenders roaring around it in gassy motorboats, Suzanne muses. Where are the bulldozers? she smirks, where the cutesy shopping center for local convenience ? Very perceptive what Gordon says about Nature: it waits and watches, as though a black bird of prey circling for the perfect moment to strike. (When he speaks, he cuts to the bone; when he writes, he sucks your breath away.) Someday, she thinks, rearranging the mess of knapsacks and bedrolls so she can paddle, the fucking land speculators and sell-out architects and money-grubbing construction companies will watch their dirty work sink into...


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pp. 49-67
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