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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Gary Le Bel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


Small red wedge

The moment you pass through the door, the secondhand bookshop in the coastal Maine village smells of accumulated knowledge; and though it has a strong, musty odor of hearsay as well, it's a scent I enjoy almost as much as the squeak of its old pine floors. As I browse lackadaisically, I notice a boy in sunglasses beside me: he's running his hands over the uneven spines of hardbacks with a kind of slow caress. I start a conversation.

—Here for the summer?
Yup.
—What do you like most about being here?
Oh, the swimming's really nice, he says, adding shyly on the cusp of a grin, and the woods smell so good you could eat ‘em.
—They are tasty, aren't they, I say, and we both chuckle. Can I help you find anything in particular?
No, he says wistfully. I just like the feel of 'em.

And after handing me a "nice to meet you," he turns to go,

             and I watch him till the tap-tap-tapping of his stick vanishes into the breeze for which the proprietor had propped the door open with a small red wedge.

One shelf up
there's The Living Sea
and with merely the sight of it
on slips my youth
like a wetsuit


Author's Note: Written by that renaissance man of the oceans, Jacques Cousteau, The Living Sea was a treasured childhood book, a later edition of which still graces my bookshelves.

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