Editor's Note Section
൪uartet - Fall Issue 2022 Volume 2 Issue 4
Julie L. Moore
after Susan Jacobs’ Geneva Girls, acrylic, 24” x 30”
That was the summer day no one
would remember, an ordinary day
at the beach, one of many
for these four friends, now grey
but still together, clad
in skirted swimsuits, facing
the shore as water circled
their ankles & their feet sunk in sand.
Can you see them being bathed
in the sunlight that dispersed
all shadows except those cast
by their own angled arms?
Photographer, then artist, caught
them from the side—liminal & languid
moment between their laughs—long
after their great loves were over,
after betrayals or bereavements rent
the lace around their hearts, leaving them
to tat again the loose & jagged edges.
That, they gladly did together.
Maybe all were grandmas, maybe not,
but three look into the sun that shares
the same perspective as the witness,
as those of us who now behold them,
recognizing the women we’ve loved—
one in front who’s plump,
with short, curly hair & hand on hip,
who in the summers of our youth
whipped up strawberry shortcake
on the fly & made us wash
behind our ears; the second in her wake
with similar hairdo parted on the side,
her body tall & thin, arm rising
to shield her quizzical eyes, who asked
embarrassing questions we tried
to dodge as we picked apples out back;
the third the only one who seems
to pose like your older sister, arm poised
behind her—here’s how you be flirtatious,
she told you once—smile emerging
like the swash after each wave
has broken. But the last woman?
She folds her arms across her waist
& stares at something else, avoiding our gaze
like the aunt who always kept her head down,
afraid to speak. Oh, the mysteries
muscled in those arms! Whom did they hold
or push away? Whom did they carry
through illness or war? What bruises
or beauty marks did they bear?
Their vibrant lives rendered
in black & white, as though everything
were that simple. Don’t you want
to draw near & ask these ladies
what they know before they forget,
beg them not to take their secrets
to their graves? I want to hear their stories
while the seagulls, now approaching
outside our view, will hover above,
waiting for the crumbs to fall.
Since I was born into a family of scientists, I grew up feeling like a misfit. I was always writing
poems and stories and whether invited to do so or not, sharing them. Short stories (usually tragic tales) were Christmas gifts, and poems were gifts on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc., whether the recipients wanted them or not.
I majored in English in college with the intention of becoming a teacher to pay the bills, so I could write the great American novel by night. That didn’t work out. As I became a full-time professor
and raised my children, I found no time for writing.
But then in my late thirties, I watched a documentary film about Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon, which deeply moved me. I felt compelled to return to my original raison d'être. I began reading all
the poetry I could, especially the poetry by contemporary writers. I checked out all the books of poetry I could from my local library. The world of contemporary poetry opened up to me. Yet, the poets I tend to return to again and again include Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lucille Clifton, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke’s poem “You Who Never Arrived” is still the most gorgeous love poem I’ve ever read.
I wrote “Bathing Beauties” as part of an event this year called, Celebration Party of the 40th Annual Women Artists, hosted by the YWCA in Youngstown, Ohio. As the epigraph says, I was assigned to write about “Geneva Girls,” which depicted four women at the beach, standing in the ankle-deep water. Each woman reminded me of someone I’ve known—my grandmothers and aunts, in
particular. So as I wrote the poem, my memories of their lives and sentiments infused the lines.
—Julie L. Moore
൪uartet is an online poetry journal that features the work of women 50 and over.
To view our issues and submission guidelines, please visit www.quartetjournal.com .