AmLit Spring 1985

Page 1


spring 1985
Summer Courtyard now oþen. Available for private þarties Enjoy our Unique Sunday Brunch 11:00am-3:00pm +QUIGLEY'S# An American Saloon Sutton Place 3201 New Mexico Avene, N.W., Washington, D.C. Plenty of free parking


The editors gratefully acknowledge the support of Dean Frank Turaj and the College of Arts and Sciences, and of Paul Strauss and the General Assembly of the Student Confederation.

Without their continued emotional and financial support, a second edition of americanLíterary would not have been possible.

A printed shout from the housetops goes as well to our generous patrons:

christine bell

abderraheim benkirane

peter bloom

lou anne caligiuri

michael haken

elinor c. hiller

richard m. lesse

patricia ludwig

john quale will stone

joe tinkieman

patricia van der vorm

william wagnon

jo williams

greg epler wood




a biannual magazine published by students of the american university editorial

laura cruger creative director

russell atwOod editor-in-chief, fiction

j„d. smith associate editor, poetry

richard lang associate editor

ray gesumaria art editor

pat ludwig

laura cruger


business managers
cover photographs
amerlcanLiterary all rights reserved all rights revert to artistS upon publication love and kisses OOXXIN amerkcanLiterary the american university 217mgc massachusettsandnebraskaavenues, n washington, dc 20016 (202) 885-6414
vail copgright O1985



elinor hiller: thehypnotist.nourishment


jim fay: poem inspired by a painting, aqua matin

d smith: nightwalker

jenntfer birabach: pretending


alan blackwell: threedrawings

ken conley:. charcoaldravwing

rachel nasatir: three charcoal dravings

patrkcia jackson: contour drawing

michael v. flppis: sabatierprint

dan mathews: photograph

laura cruger: photographs of rozsa and turaj

es van der goot: twodrawings. oil painting

raygesumarla: to monotypes

thomas irion: four etchings

anna otchin: ol painting

drawings by alan blackwell

andy schoengold's McHester Street: the rest of the story of dreamns and cinema: janos rozsa and frank turaj 22 16
tara d. keley: disintegration a. m. homes: the longest vacation todd stewart: travels in a foreign country 10,20 12 27 30
mark peters: in the oceans mira courpas: learning the moon 26 32
vail: photograph made with 4 x 5 camera 9,3, 10 6,7, 8 13 14 15 16 19, 99, 21 20, 30 26, 27, 28 31 39

jim fay

barefoot at the edçe of a field the cottage only skipsteps and a half-hummed song behind her. she stands. the light around her is almost evening. she waits. arms at her sides and all her loving weight is staked in the earth through one heel. her other foot traces arcs in the dirt sensing his approach. her eges are vwide and calm as mockingbirds. her nose alert. sifing the air for traces of the drowsing day and the smell of him.

aqua matin

father is going to take my brother fishing and I asked to go again. he said no last time but I'm older now and not afraid to gouge a worm with a hook.

I'm not Sure

vhether I think I'd like fishing or vhether I'd just like to be along with them. I like the old rowboat anyhow and I like being on the water so early in the morning. there's alwags some old raccoon big as the stuffed one in my closet at the water's edge washing his hands and his breakfast the way mother makes me wash the beans and radishes she grows in our garden.

it won't matter if father doesn't let me ço. to master a fish is nothing to be proud of mother sags. I remember the last time mother watched them go down as far as the road absently stirring the cornbread batter smiling the way she did vwhen we lay in the bottom of that old rowboat and she helped me count the stars smiling to herself now like she knew a secret saging I'd be fishing soon enough and it wouldn't be for any fish and I wouldn't be needing any worns.

poem inspired by a painting seen in the chicago art institute

night walker

Scissors. his leçs eclipse each othe, brisk business strides describe a hillarc. Heelstrikes echo from sidewalk to still oak. His shut umbrella's tip. bright and isolated as a catege. punctures the amber liçht from windows. Parted dark falls behind him in shreds. j.d.


Don't play with the darkness

For it is dangerous and will blind gou

Swallow gou up whole

Carrying you off into another world

Of scary demons

And fire breathing devils

Scorching you with their flames

For the darkness is held

In my hands only for a moment

Then I open them and it is gone

jennifer birnbach


9di the 1eitonqyrt hypnotist

Whatevercreatures-crickets,moths. mosquitoes or bats--stired under the mistsodden moon. their presence was impercepúble to the audience who perspired under slim mountain breezes filtering through. the open doors of the hotel's theater. Although it was summer when none of the rooms should have been vacant and the theater should have been packed. the place was not haf ful: nevertheless. laughter reached outside. obliterating the rustings nearby. merging in the distance with incantations of ovls and bullfrogs.

Inside. from the staçe. the hypnotist called up his vounteers: a woman he made bark like a dog: a man who crawłed on hands and knees, throwing his leçs up in a mule kick now and then: and another man. very timid at first, but who after being coaxed to sleep. sang songs like "Tve Been Workin' On The Railroad" and "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." On the second try. every time the word bonnie" appeared in the song. the hypnotist instructed him to sing "shty" instead. which made the wooden building shake like bedlam in laughter. The contestants remembered nothing once the hypnotist snapped his fingers to wake them: each one received a big round of applause as he stepped down. But after the singer, no adult would go onstage. which was the reason the hypnotist let me come up.

"Stand right here." he said. "Tell me your name."

"Milie." I answered.

"How old are you. Millie?


"Are you married? The audience stuttered a slight laugh.

jeanchristophe hyacinthe

From the seats. the stage looked orgeous: red vełvet curtains dipped in grandiose scallops. a glittering backdrop sparbled all the way to where I sat on the side. But up on the staçe. I could see in the wings a mesh of tangled mops, rags and a broken bottle swept over to the side of the floor.

"No sir, I'm not married."

"Well. maybe next gear." he said, vinking out to the audience. "No look in my eges, I'm going to count. When I reach three gou're çoing to feel drowsg. At seven, you'l be very. ery tired. At ten you're going to sleep. Listen." he commanded. "I'm about to Count. One-To-Theree çetting tired..."

I noticed that one of the buttons on the hypnotisť's tuxedo was broken and that his pocket, sewn on with larçe. clumsy basting


As I looked up at him, the violet heat curing the air around the ights scorched my eges. I squinted.

"Thať's good., very good. Close your eges. Nine-and gou're very. very. very ired and..."

I wasn't in the least tired. I wondered about the hgpnotist. about the chipped nails of tobaccotancid fingers he held close to my face. Ifl looked up into his mouth I saw the teeth fastened to his gums by wires stretched under the drooping mustache. How could I disappoint him?I didn't feel like sleeping and I didn't want to hurt his feel ings. If only I hadn't come up. "Ten!"

vious to pain. gou will be incapable of feel ing pain. you will be insensitive. Nothing in this world can hurt gou."

His slap lacerated my face. letting out a blaze of hieroglyphic scrawis in briliant colors. squirming maçenta microbes flickered before my eges. the heat from my cheek now rising in seismic rhythms up to the lights. I had to hold on beneath that lame: was on stage. I couldn't wince or whimper. I couldn't blink: only the audience was at liberty to gasp.

In an angry whisper the hypnotist snarled. "Why did you pretend? Why did you make believe you were sleeping To the audience he said. When I snap my fingers. you will My eges snapped shut.

awaken and you will feel again." stitches, was fraged.

"I said listen to me!" he menaced. Then he continued in a softer tone: "Five-SixSeven-Drowsy, oh so drowsy." applause.

"Millie is now fast asleep." he said lifüng his forefinger to his lips to hush the audience. Then he said to me. "Millie, now you are sleeping and you do not feel a thing. not a thing. Unil I wake you, you will be imper-

He snapped his fingers. I opened my eyes. I stepped dovn from the stage. cheek still burning. to a sensational round of al


S i

he sat alone.enclosedin thepages of a Jjoumal. chain-smoking until the knot in her stomach became unbearable. She moved as though she feared retribution for each quick intake of smoke. or even the slight movement of her fingers flickáng the growth of ash into the air. Each sip of saccharinelaced soda conginced her that she was seconds closer to death. and the thought evoked mixed emotions.

tnIn her better moods she was sure she had crOSsed the border between madness and sanity for the last time. But now she was uncertain as to which side she was on, or. more accurately. which side scared her the


Her father was on one side. the side she slipped into almost daily. She was certain that he was insane. a certainty documented by the unguestionable dementia of his family. For her father and his siblings alcoholism and violence were only part of the problem. and there was a tendency to shrug these off in a family that spent most of its time in and around mental wards. But as the patterns began to repeat, as one child after another grew to maturity they found themselves trapped vithin their own forns of madness. She herself had become familiar with the stirrings of insanity. placed it among the

essentials of understarnding her own life. Violence also fiqured in an odd way. in a way that had permanently damaged her. Those events she had been unable to block out she could only describe as worse than any hell she might have imagined.

It was a phantasmagoria. The walls bled a plasma of paint chips and sheet rock as a torrent of objects impacted, fell and shattered. Lamps, wrenched out of wall sockets, flew across rooms and gouged holes into the fragile skin of walls and doors. The lightbulbs, lit only seconds before, exploded into fragments of glass and wire. The enire house shook as chairs, tables, books and dishware bruised and battered the internal structure, slashed through veins and arteries untl it's lifeblood qushed out, foming pud-

dles of debris on the floor.

tions. When her father had. in his mind. a justification for the acts of brutality he would begín the violence, the iolence that continued. was condoned and became commonplace. She could still her the sounds of impact. of bone açainst walls and floors. She could still hear the mufled pleadings of her mother. the cries and screams as father kicked his spouse down the stairs or into other states of oblivion.

She remembered the attempt to stanch the flow of violence with a wave of bitterness. As if she could have stopped it. as if she were omniscient. The results were alwags the same. Her mother was a study in quilt. her father shiftyeged as he made more vacant promises of peace. Within dags the state of affairs resumed a sickening form of normalcy. a normalcy where bottles flew in spite of themselves. the dregs launching out and slapping into the walls. the floors. the mute faces of those unfortunate enough to

be standing in the wag.

She had grown up with this cruelty and the results frightened her. She could see herself withdrawing from people. becoming more and more immersed in activity so that she lacked the time to think about her past life ang more than she had to. There were things she couldn't block. though. as hard as she miçht try. Now she vwas unable to cope with the random cruelty of life. She hated the words that couldn't be erased. the blanched and beaten faces of those who had been slapped by her carefully constructed sentences. Soon she bean to stifle the words and the emotions. the desire to quell indifference and thoughtlessness by striking out at the offenders. The rages internalized. eupted in acts of clandestine self-destruction and random fits of uncontrollable rage. What she saw as a form of

insanity had taken root and was thriving. The night grew colder. She tried to convey the quick stream of thoughts into words. choose a few that were worth putting on paper, then crossed them out. She had run out of ciçarettes, she had run out of emo tions. The few sane outlets for her raçes. rages açainst what she continued to regard as a dying ight, were failing her. There were no soluions, no path out of the ditch she

She could still hear the drunken verbiage of her father, an incredible mixture of obscenity and intelligence, as he goaded her mother into the inevitable stream of accusa- found herself in. She closed the joumal. alt

patricia jackson 13
michael v. flippis
dan mathevs
Janos Rozsa Frank Tuai

of dreams and cinema: a conversation with filmmaker janos rozsa and dean frank turaj on the eastern european film industry

Is art more a produt of the artistSVISİONor of the society from which the artist comes? Hor much do culrre and politics affect artistic perypative?

s at any less raluable if the antist gos uhard of? Can art exist without an audience? If no one ses i. s it art?

Janos Rozsa and Frark Turaj spured thexequestions with their iferent philosophies when thợ talked one moming about Easten European cinena.

Rozsa a wel knovn Hungnian flrmaker. has been teaching cinema studies and production cksses for AUs College of Arts and Sciences His fims inchude Sunday Daughters. about the lije of a poung girl living in a state home and Grimace. a somexhat sureal look at the world from a child's perşpetive His katest ftn Witches Sabbath. s a ungarian Americanfitn efor.

Turaj Daan of theCollag of Arts andSiences s a fiim buffspecializing in Eastem European cinema epaially the filns of Poland His Polish ancestry and love of the fln art hare inspied him to create one of the best Eastem European fin sudics programs among American universities, at AU.


LAURA CRUGER: There's a book on Eastern European Cinema called The Most Important Art. Why is it the most important art. and to whom?

JANOS ROZSA: Do gou know who said it was the most important art? Lenin said it.

FRANK TURAJ: What did he play in? No- it's true.

ROZSA: Lenin said it because most of the Russian population was illiterate-newspapers couldn't give information to the people-so documentaries were very important to the govenment. But we filmmakers still think it is the most important art. even if we are the only ones who think that.

LC (To Turaj): Do jou think it is sill the most important art?

TURAJ: Absolutely.

LC: How about specifically in Eastern Europe? Is it more...

ROZSA: Eastern Europe is on the same globe...

LC: Yes. ges...

TURAJ: You know, it may be more important in Eastern Europe in Some ways.


TURAJ: I can't speak for Hungary. but it seems to me that in Poland. they simply take films more seriously. The public does.

ROZSA: Well. when we speak about film in Hungary or Poland, we mean the film art.

LC: You don't mean pure 'entertainment'. like HollywOod movies.

ROZSA: Entertainment...Entertainment can be art as well.

TURAJ: And art can be entertaining.

ROZSA: The 'entertainment' aspect is very important. The audience is the same everyvhere in the world. even on the 'other part of the globe. Theg want to spend an hourand-a-half or tvvo hours in a comfortable chair in the dark-together. And that's very importanttogether. Not isolated in front of the TV. Magbe that's the secret-that's why the cinema can survive the attack of the TV-people like to be toçether and watch the same screen and...and...

LC: ...and hear each other laugh.

TURAJ: I hate to run in the face of such a nice community spirit, but my idea of paradise. for entertaining mgsel. is to be in a small movie house all alone Not in front of a television set-in front of a big screen.


TURAJ: Well. to me. the cinema is the closest thing to a dream that I've ever experienced vhen I'm not sleeping.

ROZSA: But people love dreaming together.

TURAJ: Ive never dreamt vith angone in my life

ROZSA: Wel. you are so goung-maybe later.


LC: What is the purpOse of the cinema there?

ROZSA: To give an honest opinion of the country. to make the people understand their present by the past-or to answer questions, or at least. to ask the questions.

TURAJ: You bring up something that is very noticeable-the films of Eastem Europe are on the whole much more serious. More political. as political as they can be under censorship. I think. It's almost difficult to find a film that is not somewhat political.

ROZSA: And not historical.

TURAJ: I's sociological political. or it's allegorical political. I think of. for example. a Polish film, Master of Ceremonies about a uy who makes a Iiving as a master of ceremonies. By climbing all over people. he gets to the top-by being a cheat. Do gou know that flm?

ROZSA: Sure.

TURAJ: And this is a thinly veiled allegory of life in that societ,.

ROZSA: But not all the historical films are alleçorical. I am sure if you analyze a question by looking at the past gou can understand the present better, but...

TURAJ: ...but a historical film that raises the consciousness of nationhood can be made, without necessarily being an allegory.


TURAJ: And in this sense, I have a specific example. The film Faithful River is about the uprising of 1863 in Poland. It's not an allegory. it's adapted from a novel. One can buy the novel in Poland. it is not censored. But the film has not yet been allowed to be shown. although the director has won a prize from the state for it, and his peers-his fellow directors-think it is a magnificent film. But it is still not allowed to be screened.

J 17

It depicts an uprising açainst Czaist troops. Of course that isn't exactly an uprising against the Soviets, but an uprising açainst the Russians. And that is just too close. So it's on the shelf. It is an historical film that raises the sense of nationhood. has no allegorical content. and yet it has a halo of politics that causes it to be censored.

ROZSA: Now gou are the expert in Polish Film, I am not the Hungarian Ambassador (chuckle) so l don't want to say anything-- but obviously. Poland is a very special situation.

TURAJ: Yes, since 1980. it has been a very special situation.

TURAJ: Sometimes that's true.

ROZSA: Oh, sure, sometimes a producer can be stupid. but that's rare. I wish they were stupid, but they are not. And that's very interesting. If you analyze the films we made in the last ten gears in Hungary-Times Stands Stil Surnday Daughters When Joseph Retuns etcetera. gou might ask what the role of the censor vwas in those films. These films open a door, a window for Hungary.

TURAI: In other words. gou're saping that you can't see the hand of the censor in those films.

ROZSA: Yes. Let me ask you a question. as a director. I've never been one. so I've never gone through ths process. Do you feel that censorship-specifically political censorship-creatively challenges you to do something more subtle. more imaginative. more suggestive? Do gou feel that sometimes this makes you a more careful artist because gou cannot do things so overtly? I don't mean just gou. I mean any director in Easten Europe.

ROZSA: Fist of all let's define this censorship. The censors in Hungary say we mustn't make pomography. brutality. or flms against the Hungarian system. It doesn't mean you can't show nude people. In every Hungarian film you see love scenes. Same with brutality. You can show someone kill another person.

TURAJ: But not so graphically.

ROZSA: No. but if there is a dramatic reason in a film. and it's made in an artistic way. there's no disçust about it.

TURAJ: Let me interrupt becausel think you're making a good point. It has nothing to do with political censorship. but it has to do with the point I was making. In the US. we can show any kind of brutality and most of the time it's stupid. I can think of scenes of blood and gore which are totally unnecessary and do more perhaps to ruin the decorum of the film than to help it. Now you do not depict brutality in the same way. You do not show bulets hiting the face.

ROZSA: Yeah. peah. but I did it. in a film that took place in the Middle Ages. That brutality was the natural everyday life of the people. So if gou make a film that takes place then. or a film about fascism or any topic that involves brutalty. then naturaly gou have to show this element.


LC: How much is a ticket in Poland?

TURAJ: Cheap.

ROZSA: Cheap in Hungary as well. If you make a HIT! in Hungary and the whole population goes to see the film twice. then it's nothing-nothing in dollars. Because the tickets are so cheap.

TURAJ: So obviously there is a great deal more profit here.

ROZSA: And in Hungary it is obvious that they don't want the profit. They may sag they want it. but when they decide to sell a ticket for 10, they decide not to make money.


LC: In Eastem Europe, the state funds all films.

ROZSA: Yes, and in America. if gou want to make a film, gou have to consince a producer. or a rich quy. And if you can't convince him. gou have to win a lottery or I don't know what. Or gou can't make the film. We have only one producer. That's our problem. But the producer is not the state directly--I sit in front of a clerk-a human being -not the state. This clerk is very intelligent. so gou can't lie. He's read 2,000 more books than I. And it's not his money he's giving out. it's the state's moneg, so it's my money. too. The money is not in his pocket.


LC: So vhat is your challençe in making a film?

ROZSA: I have to find the best way to suspend the audiences disbelief when I'm making a film. I try never to think about vwhat the state mag or may not censor, because I have enough problems thinking with my head about how to make the public understand what I'm trying to say. I's not easy... the audience doesnt want to think too much. I'm not making the film for the producer, but for the public. That's my job. The next challenge is, how can I combine public success with an intelliçent message? That's not easy either.

Maybe it's easy for Fellini. But how mang average Americans know vho Feliní is? Who knows his name? And who knows Bergman's name? Yeah. geah. Liv ullman and Truffaut are known a bit more magbe. But vwho knows those qugs? They are not less valuable than Spielberg. who is a brilliant director and. .who made some mone (chuckle). Or Milos Forman.

Forman was a brilliant director in Czechoslavakia. The Firenan's Ball is one of his best. He is a talented guy. he came here. and he made his firstAmerican film calledTaking Of. It was...

TURAJ: Lousy.

ROZA: ...lousy. But he's a talented guy. or he couldn't have made Hai or Cuckoos Nest or Amadeus And these are very good...I love his films. I love Amadeus but I'm not sure it's better than Fireman's Bal.

TURAJ: In a strange way. when he was making One Flew Orer the CuCkoo's Nest. he was making a Czechoslavakian film. He discovered that he failed vith Taking Of because he hadn't found a theme that spoke very strongly to himself and to the American public at the same time.

But when he read Cuckoo's Nest., he found it. His own explanation is something like this: he had to find a metaphor for individual revolt against an institution. Especially a mind-bending institution.

ROZSA: But he is very talented, don't forget. this is why hes a succes. When we talk about censorship. or the stupid producer. or the lack of money. or bad vweather. I don't like it because these are excuses. And in history. there were bad periods, there were producers all the ime. Michelangelo had a producer. the Pope. and he never asked. can I make nude angels or vwhat? He knew what to do. how to do it. and he knew something else: the painting wouldn't come down over the centuries. Maybe more talented people made much better things, but who knows about them?

When I talk with ray students about censorship. they have an image that we talk to a chair behind a desk or a very stupid guy. they lack the knack.

So, it is the talent's job to get through. And NO excuses. NO stupid producer. NO stupid audience, NO censorship. NO war-nothing can stop you. You have to find a way. And if a guy has talent enough then he will find the best sript, the best actor, the right circumstances. They can make a çood film for nothing. and they can make bad films for milions. Sorrily there are lost talents and I know they are lost because al.

drawing by els van der goot


Tara-that was the name Crito had Ngiven her--looked up as the sky tumed first luminescent green. then a lush purple. It was midday. The War had been over for a long ime. but once in avhile those beuildering skies retumed.

Squining. she clasped the small leather pouch that hung from a thong around her neck. held it as if it were a cros from the old days. Not even Critto knew what was inside. Once. years ago. whern he tried to touch it. she struck him with the jagged edge of a pipe. etching the permanent horizontal scar that perforated his cheek. She carried the pouch with heralwagsS.never revealing what

silenty over the gity land, about thirty gards east of him, scanning the surface for the tellale bulge of incipient growth. They had been together many years. When they became partners they must have been the same age. Now he was an old man. Except for a line of sparse, vwhite strands around the perimeter of his skul. he was entirely bald. Some days he could not straighten his back. so he walked bent, ike an animal whose front legs did not quite reach the ground. The woman though. was still straight. Critto loved her hair. the color of the bark of the old trees, and her face which wàas smooth and unlined. Why hadn't she açed? Why didn't she seem to be hungry?

right foream deep into her mouth so she couldn't bite. Then gripping her to his chest. he cut the pouch string with his teeth. She struggled. but could not move from his insistent grasp. Strong-he was still the stronger. His teeth shred the last strand of fiber. He had one instant to open the pouch. to get what was inside. He struck her so she fell stunned to the ground. He veered away and pulled tro shriveled mushrooms from the


"No." she screamed. "Don't!" She rushed at him.

Quickly. he flung the mushrooms into his mouth. swallowing without chewing.

"Oh." she sobbed. "Oh no. oh no." She cutched her arms, rocking sidewas. "Oh it contained.

They had trudged this sector of the plain for two dags. Although it was summer and food should have been plentiful. they had walked and walked, but nothing had grown for them. Grito feared that food vwould have to be farmed as it had been before The War. Since the middle of The Chaos. food had come to sprout alone. A stalk of nourishment would appear overnight. The next day. if it were not harvested. it would be gone. The people could find all they needed in the sunmer, then returm to the barracks for winter when theg would sleep the long. full sleep. waking by some inner clock. when

the food would be there açain.

Now, after two days with the Sour taste of hunger in his mouth, Critto was irritable. The woman did not complain. She marched

Secretly. he resented whatever it was that preserved her. He eged her: her hand still clutching the itdle pocket dangling from her neck. Of course! he thought. While he starved. she had been taking nourishment from the pouch. Now. for his own survival. he would snatch it from her. But she was Smart and strong. He would have to be clever, to plan. He let her move ahead of him, then he called out:


"You wanted to keep the mushrooms for yourself. did you? After all this time with me. you wouldn't share your food." he scolded.

"Oh my sweet. oh my love. my hope. my love .my children. my poor children."

"What are you talking about? We have no children."

"They were my children before I met you. My poor children were growing again. They shrunk in The Chaos, but slowty they were "Nara! Come here darling. You have a tick on the back of your neck. Let me get him out for you." growing. Now they're gone forever.

She reached absently to her neck.

"No." he said. "Ill çet it." He caught up

with her.

Swiftly. using her hair to pull, he wrenched her head back with his left hand. thrust his complained.

Crito watched as she rocked from side to side. as her hair turned white and fell out. and as her skin withered. Before nightall she was blind. The rest of his life. Critto dragged her behind him: but he never

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etchings by thomas irion

in the oceans

In the oceans fish swim two by tO red and porpoise whale and turquiose suddenly plumes shorting jet fountains

In the oceans coral queens hands swaying bright orange bubbles rushing fan-fish praying slapping of surfs the hot white beach a fiddler crabcreeps

In the oceans tvo by two boy and girl opster. pearl crunching and splashing warm. vibrating arrow fish pointing

It's wet and it's fun here they come two by wo fatfish and dolphins seastriped. clam-ribbed caught in procession in a smiling mood

In the oceans full of mgstery swaying in historg everywhere now.

mark peters


Cylvia tapped Henry on the back just before she swung her legs over the edge

of the bed.

"I's moming." she said. getting up to pull the curtain open. She stretched. looked out onto a sea of Chevrolets and the bottom half of the Holiday Inn sign. gawned and walked into the bathroom. "Are gou awake Her words were thick with mint toothpaste. Henry rolled avay from her voice. banged his head on the nightable and lapsed back into sleep. She carme out of the bathroom the small white towel barely cor-

ering her sunburm.

"What do you mean." she said. Henry shook himself awake.


"I heard gou say. quite loudly. isn't it ever enough?

"Didn'." He rolled onto his side and tucked the right side of his face into the pillow. With his left ege half open he watched his vwife dry herself. running the towel across her back and up through her legs as if she were alone in the room. She dropped the damp towel to the floor and struggled to stretch her bathing suit up and orer her hips. binding rolls of flesh together into a seamless blue and green flower.

"You'd think for sixt-five dollarsS a night and no iew of the beach they'd at least have a tub instead of a shower so small you can't even turn around in it." Henry rearranged his pillow. "Are you geting up?"

"In a minute"

"This is our vacation."

"A minute.

"A minute l should wait or a minute you'll meet me in the coffee shop.

"Soon. Go vwithout me."

"Henry. you only çet two weeks a year. We used up one çeting gour hermia fixed and now for four days gou've just been lying there. When are gou getúng up?

the longest vacation

"1 don't know.

"I'm plaşing cards this morming. will you come with? Henty shook his head." Then meet me in the restaurant at eleven thirty. we'll have lunch."


Trelve Henry and dont be late. Get onto the beach. go for a walk. Do something. anything. I don't care what. but don't just lie there. We'll see."

Splvia picked up the room key from the

top of the television set and dropped it into her purse.

"I have a key." she said as she opened the door and let in heat and the smell of french fies. "Get up Henrg." The door closed vith a heavy vacuum seal type sound. Outside people vwere coming back from breakíast. their flip-flops slapping against the cement sidewalk. Mufled voices came through the wall behind Henry's bed. A whining child and a man with a thin voice.


shatenr pour mother says." Their opened and ckosed several times r coukdpicturesomeonestickingan an out to see what kind of da it was

"fI so much as see şou ço near the water hefore gour breakfast settles gou'll spend the rest of this trip at gour grandmother's

house." the mother grovled.

"But." the kid said.

"That's the way it goes.

"Tm getingup."Henrysaid "l justtalke me a minute."

"Tl just ço next door for now."

"Get a stick or something and Il put him back in the water." Henry said. still watching the shark vwatching him.

"How do you know it's a him? a woman asked. No one ansvered. The shark's gils puffed in and out.

"Please çet something sol can help him." Henrypleaded. "He's not happ." To people on the fringe of the circle went running off looking for sticks.

"Great." the kid said. walking past Henry's

"Pck it up or leave it in the room." the man said.

"Can I go home now." the kid whined.

"A broom handle would work." an old woman said. room. scraping his plastic raft along the ground.

"Il be ok" Hengy said to the fish. "They'll be right back." The crowd began to break up and some nev people came for a look.

"Home. wy. we're having fun" Their

Henry's ckoset rattled açainst cach other.

He lifted up the telephone receiver and read the instructions for placing an outside call at least ten times before he dialed.

"Helo. Mort." he said. trying to sound jovial. "How's the store

"Fine. same as yesterday."

"Everything else ok?

"Arags is. So. are gou çetting some sun?"

Well" Henry reached under the bed and

"Il's a shark. door slammed shut and the hangers in

"Harold. stay back." a mother said. nearly ripping her child's arm off as he tried to move in for a closer look. "t might bite gou." Henry looked up and down the beach for the people who'd çone off to find sticks. He sa one of them talking to the guy who rented umbrellas.

"Is that yours towards the fish. a little girl asked. pointing

"No." Henrg said. "Im waiting for someone to get something so l can put him back in the water." Henrg ooked dowm at the ittle girl. She was about seven and wore a bathing suit vwith a flower cut out around her

pulled out a battered pomo magazine he'd discovered the daş betore vhile looking for a lost sock" Not much. I don't like that business with geting burmed. belly button.

"You coukd use some lotion.

"No. I don't think so. not right now. Besides, it never works. I've got very fair skin." Henry fipped through the magazine. Wel. gou'e got the number here. call if something comes up.

"Will do. Relax. have a good time. It is gour vacation.

"Yeah." Henry said. hanging up the phone. He continued flipping through the magazine. slipping his left hand under the sheet and over his private parts. Henry rolled away from the vindow and lost himself in a fantasy that incotved the hotel coffee shop. his wife. the ladies she was playing cards with and the eighteen year old girl displaged on the gloss pages. He didn't hear the door when it opened.

"They'e gone down to the beach." He sat up in bed. wrapping the sheet around his waist. "I heard them leave" The girl nodded and withdrew. closing the door as she left. Through the window Henry watched her as she pushed the cleaning car a little further down the sidewalk. As soon as he heard her unkock the room next door he hopped out of bed and quickły hurried over to the window. The clean white sheet clenched at his waist dragged across the floor. Quickly he pulled the drapes closed and slipped the door chain into place. In the bathroom Henry let the sheet fall to the floor and stood watching himself in the hard lourescent light. He took a few deep breaths, brushed his teeth. forçeting to spit and instead swalloving the thick green foam. Henry pull ed his thirty gear old blue bathing suit from the suitcase and slipped it on along with a winkled. baby blue. long sleeve button down. He tossed one of the hotel's thin white towels orer his shoulder and stepped out the door. Henry walked barefoot down the hot wooden planks that croSsed the dune like a man dancing on coals. When he reached the end he lfted up one foot and examined it. surprised to find it slightly red and not at all bleeding. Weaving in and out of plaid blankets, umbrellas and ice chests he made his vway to the hard wet sand. On either side of him people ran in and out of the water. diving into the waves. The water lapped up onto Henrg's ankles. wave after wave. sucking his feet further into the sand. Every now and then he'd viggle his toes until he could see the long carefully filed nails poking through the sand.

"There's something out there." a man said Io Henry as he waded out of the water. hitching up his sagging bathing suit.

"A fish." Henry said.

"People sometimes eat them." she said.

"Not very nice is it." Henry said watching the fish veho appeared to be haing difficulty


"No." the little çirl said. She bent over towards the fish. picked it up by its tail and threw it into the surf.

"Bye." she said as she walked away.

At the beach-side bar Henry ordered a double gin and tonic. The drink arrived in a large plastic tumbler with a red paper umbrella and a yellow and blue wisted stravw. He pickked up the drink and walked back towards the ocean siping carefuly from the edge of the glass. Near the water he spread out his towel., took his shirt off and offered his pale white skin to the sky. When the drink was finished and the ice long since crushed betveen his javs. Henry stood and forçeting he couldn't sim. three himself. with a loud war whoop headlong into the

"Scuse me." the hotel maid said. Henry jumped under the sheets as he snapped back into the room. "1 didn't know there was angbody sull here." vaves.

"Just geting a littde extra. sleep." Henry said.

"The sign was on the door." The girl showed him the. "Maid Make Uup This Room." side of the plastic." Do Not Disturb" sign.

"My vwife must have put that up."

"Well I'l come back later." the girl said. backing out of the room and into the cart she'd left outside.

"I dunno. but I saw two eyes looking at me." Heng shrugged. The man walked out of the water. His small son was playing in the salty white foam. 'come and play on the blanket for awhile." he said, scooping up the kid. pail. shovel and all. The water was blue and then green and then brown as Henry gazed out across the ocean. Exactly how far it was to China. he wondered.

All of the sudden he was surrounded by a circle of screaming people. They were all pointing in the direction of Henry's feet. He looked down to see a small shark. about two and a half feet long. Iying barely inches from his left ankle. He pulled his foot out of the wet sand. The shark looked up at Henry.

"Everyone stand back." someone with no authority ordered but the crowd backed off anyway.


travels in a foreign country

66 A U in all. it's been a çood life." his said.

"Don't sap that." he said.

"But it has," she said.

"I know. but you don't have to say it like you sag it." he said.

They were silent. He watched the slow

drip of the intravenous fluid. He tried reading the label. It was upside down and the long words discouraged him.

She siçhed. He stared at her face but her eyes were on the television set. It was a soap opera. The sound was turned down. He didn't like soap operas because they made him think of rainy afternoons. He wouldn't be allowed to go outside to play and his mother would be doing the ironing. It would be dark outside though it was afternoon. The Edge of Night would be on and the distilled water in the iron would qurgle back and forth.

"Im hungrg." she said. "I know I shouldn't be but I am."

Why shouldn't gou be? he asked. He knew why. The doctor had told them about it

"You haven't eaten anything all da,." he said.

"T know." she said. And then she laughed.

He frovmed. He was angry at her for complaining and then angry at himself for being angry at her. He thought of her slow loss of appetite over the past few months. There was one evening hen they had gone to The Red Lobster. She hadn't finished her fried clams and the french fries and cole slaw had remained untouched. The waitress had askedif everything was all right.

He realized he was hungry and felt ashamed. When he was a child he ahrags told his mother there was a lion in his bely.

"Why don't gou go and get yourself a snack." his vife said. "Im all right."

"No." he said.

He flipped through a magazine. He would stop every now and then to look at the prety women in some of the ads. He would tum the paçe when he felt his wife's eges on him.

"Should I close the drapes?" he asked. The sun was climbing across the foot of her bed.

"No." she said. "Thank you.

You can live without a spleen. the doctor had told them. But he knew they were tak ing his wife away piece by piece. A jigsaw puzzle. He thought of when she had had her hysterectomy six years aço. There was no rush and she had chosen to have it done in the spring. That way she ould be free from her job during the summer and could work in the garden. she had said. That would make it easier, she had said. she didn't like being cooped up. When he came into her room after the operation he had tried to smile. Aftermoon sunlight poked through

gaps in the drapes.

ray gesumaria

anna otchin

"How do gou feet? he had asthed. feel fine."

"There is an anvil on top of me." she had said.

"ShouldI tum up the volume on the tele vision? he asked.

"She's hungrg." he said.

"That's a good sign." the nurse said, tuming her smile on him. He felt like a child again. The nurse checked the botle of intra-

"No." she said. And then açain, with a smile, "No." penous fluid.

"Do gou remember." he said. "vwhen we were in Europe a few years ago? We were in Munich, waiting for our train to Geneva. We were standing in the train station and that Arab asked us if we wanted to drive a car to Iran. Do gou remember?

"Yes." she said.

"You wanted to o." he said.

"Yes. Yes, I did. I don't know vhg. but I

"Well now." the nurse said to his wife. "gou're going to have to remove gour

jewelry for me."

clasped her gold neckace.

knuckle. she pulled on the string while tisting the wedding band. It came off like a nut

off a bolt.

The nurse held the ing between thumb and forefinger. He didn't reply when she asked if that wasn't something. The nurse put the ring in a manila envelope along with necklace and earings. and left. The doctor

would come in soon.

His wife took off her earrings. She un- "I think Il step out for a moment." he said.

wedding band. too." the nurse said.

"Im afraid gou'll have to take off your "All right." she said. "Get gourself a tuna sandwich in the cafeteria." she called after

"My ring won't come off." his wife said. "It hasn't come off for gears. I expect you'd have to cut my finger off at the joint in order

did." to remove it." she said, laughing.

"1 thought gou were joking." he said.

"No." she said. "No. I wasn't."

"A stupid idea." he said. "Absurd."

"Magbe." she said. And she closed her


The nurse entered the room. She greeted

He thought of boning chicken on Sunday aftemoons when he made curried chicken.


He walked down the halway. trying not to look in any of the half open doors. The nurse was behind the reception desk. laughing at something an orderly had just told her. The manila envelope was still in her

"We have wags, we have ways." the nurse hands.

said. And she laughed, also.

She took a roll of thread from her skirt pocket. Edging the string beneath the wedding band so one end stuck out near the knuckle. the nurse wrapped his wife's finger

both of them, smiling. with the thread. wife.

"How are gou feeling? the nurse asked his

"A ittle weak." she said. "but otherwise

The heat was like a slap in the face when he went outside. He crossed the parking lot and got in his car, sweating while he waited for the air conditioning to blow cool air. He paid the parking attendarnt and tumed left on the two lane highway. toward the Interstate.

"Now." the nurse said. "watch closely." Grasping the end of the thread nearest the head.

"Iran," he said out loud, shaking his al.


learning the moon...

A sliver So thin, we could kiss it vwith our lips.

Cradled by dense sky.

pinpricked vwith light

Seven sisters in the Pleiades. some orange. others blue.

Cassiopeia is turned in the vinter sky. so crisp and cleansing.

Soon the moon will be full.

Soon we will reason the summer stars.

mira courpas

wendy vail
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