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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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The Widening Gyre

He kept his promise. Not

that afternoon, or the next, but without hurry,

     a week later or so, on a bench under a tree

by the library. Even that poem could not distract me completely

from the nearness of his body. Sometimes as he spoke

the words blurred; I wanted just

to ride the rhythm of his voice, its depth, its warmth.

But then, even his body beside me on the bench

could not distract me completely

     from that poem:

The best lack all conviction, while

The worst are full of a passionate sincerity.

“It’s like now, isn’t it?” I said. “The coming chaos.”

“Maybe. I hope not. But I fear so, sometimes.”

“Marchenkoff—what is your first name?”

“How about Mark?”

“But that isn’t it, is it?”

“No, but the real thing is practically

     unpronounceable.”

“Try me.”

Mildly, he shook his head, eyes directed

past me, and past the trees, the building across the lawn.

I had no idea what

he was looking at.

“Okay,” I said. “Mark it is.

     So, Mark, do you think we’ll be at war soon?”

Elbows on his knees, he nodded. “Yes. I do.”

“Isn’t there any way out?”

“I don’t think so. Not now. Maybe years ago,

     before Hitler invaded Poland or Czechoslovakia,

     or before he gained so much power. But not now.”

“Doesn’t that make you angry,” I said,

“that this could have been avoided, but no one

     did anything?”

“Angry. Hmm. No, not angry. Sad. Yeah, it makes me

     very sad.”

“Would you go?” I asked. I could hardly

     speak the words.

“I don’t know. I think I might. I don’t like fighting, but

     George is right, Hitler

     has to be stopped.”

When he got up to go a moment later, he said,

“Hey, Linda. There’s a new film downtown

     this week. Cary Grant. Would you like to go?”

After that, we were

more or less a couple. I even learned

some of the shapes his mouth could make

with mine. That was

a revelation. Yet he remained

mysterious to me, his comings and goings

nothing I could influence

               or predict. And

he never did tell me

     his first name.

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