Editor's Note Section

൪uartet - Fall Issue 2022 Volume 2 Issue 4

 

Poetry

slice two - still life.png
 
 

Julie L. Moore

Bathing Beauties

            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 .