by Marian Glaser © May 1997
Anne looked at the lake reflecting the sunshine, blue skies and white clouds.
Later she’d be sailing lazily, drifting over this shining sun path, her spinnaker hoisted.
Earlier she had seen one of the wild ducks with twelve goslings on her back,
her webbed feet making the water arrow as she swam.
She must have stopped at other nests, like a bus driver ferrying students.
Right now, Anne wanted to savour this second vacation breakfast coffee,
sipping slowly, sitting at ease on this chaise-lounge in the borrowed cottage gazebo.
This peaceful feeling was much pleasanter than her racing working mind.
The feeling reminded her of gazing at the lined face of that old woman painted by Rembrandt.
She’d felt tranquil then, totally within a world alien to her.
If she had had a few hours instead of the ten minutes left of her lunch break
she could have read every deed of that life by the traces on that placid face,
those eyes that must have seen unimaginable horrors but were pools of light.
She had appreciated it both as a piece of art and a revelation of an unknown personality.
The face wouldn’t have revealed so much so readily if the artist hadn’t been so great.
Tonight she’d light a fire and lie on the couch, gazing at the green, yellow, orange and red of the flames,
seeing strange scenes in the charred logs and embers. Maybe she would see
that old woman, bent, leaning on her brown cane, gathering
small sticks for the fire over which her simmering soup kettle hung,
the one she’d first heard about in a fairy tale told by a sister when she was two.
That one had had a magic pan that had supplied an endless stream of porridge.
She’d liked that independence then and still did after forty years.
That woman’s energy had amazed her. She might have been born with it or
gathered and guarded it as carefully as the wood for her fire and as Anne had to do
in these two free weeks so she could endure the remaining fifty.