The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had
watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and
he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work
was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly
when she made amused or considered answers to his questions. One
night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she
turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like
that too, but I must tell you I have had a double mastectomy,” and
when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance
that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity—like music—
withered, very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said,
“I’m sorry. I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin
through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the
porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found
when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the
bowl—she must have swept them from the corners of her studio—was
full of dead bees.
(source: Morehead State via Jerry, belatedly)
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their
Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to
the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.