Saturday, March 10, 2007


   After our Saturday morning anatomy class  up at the National Academy ­old-master style charcoal drawing and a real skeleton beside the standing model I went to lunch at a Polish coffee shop over on Madison with my fellow art student Eve. No studied trendiness, heart-breakingly eager, this slightly chubby dark-haired young woman who drew each Saturday at the easel beside mine. Far from my own generation,  yet it was the time when it felt like I had been pulled back over decades, as if a bungee cord had taken me from this new life, back over wives  and girlfriends like Anne and Bonnie and Judy and Vannie ­and war zones-­ like Laos and Cuba and Angola and Beirut -­ back to a distant time when, like now, life was starting.

The ashgrove how graceful,how plainly is speaking
The wind in its playing has language for me.

Over kielbasa we talked of how the latsamus dorsi is the guide for the line of the model's back, right down to the gluteus maximus. We talked of this morning's model's real life latisimus dorsi and also her actual gluteus maximus and how we handled it. And about a 40-year-old friend of Eve¹s who Eve thought might be right for me -­ funny and intense like you, she said -­ me at 53 younger than I
had ever been. Forty sounded very old.

I had no intention of anything more with Eve than these Saturday Polish lunches. It was enough that she led me into a time warp. When I looked at her I heard songs from a joint glee club chorus from long ago ­ long before wars and

Whenever the light through its branches if breaking
A host of kind faces is gazing at me.

Over pirgogis Eve said she would get me in free into a concert that night if I wanted -­ this great Ukrainian violinist playing Tchaikovsky at the 92nd Street Y, which was where Eve lived in exchange for being an usher at concerts and

The friends of my childhood again are before me
Each step wakes a memory as freely I roam.

When I arrive at the YMHA, Eve, in a Navy blue blazer, programs in her arms, runs down the aisle to hug me. In these art schools I had been frequenting
around the clock now we were all hugging each other all the time. And still the old songs in my head will not go away. These songs I¹d heard from the rear of the Plymouth State Teachers College auditoruim at a special glee club concert joining our school with our sister school -­­ me 15 years old with eyes locked on 14-year-old Sandie who was up there in bright stage light while I stayed in the back of the audience because I could not sing.

My lips smile no more, my heart loses its lightness
No dream of the future my spirit can cheer.
I only would brood on the past and its brightness,
The dead I have mourned are again living here.

Eve's blue blazer could be the school blazer Sandie wore for that glee club concert.

On the stage in front of me now, this little round Ukrainian, whose hair is long and died black, is attacking his violin with glee, waving it, pumping it,
dancing back and forth and from side to side, looking sad or desperate at one
moment, hopeful or ecstatic the next ­ louder and louder, faster and faster. And still, more clear than this 92nd St. Y stage is that stage in New Hampshire that held Sandie, her young and open round singer¹s face in the bright stage light. And beneath Tchaikoveay I am still hearing snatches of those songs I had not been permitted to sing, and once tried to forget.

From every dark nook they press foreward to meet me
I lift up my eyes to the broad leafy dome
Then other are there looking downward to greet me.
The ash grove, the ash grove, alone is my home.

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