Woman of Wisdom, mixed media (acrylic, tissue paper, pen and ink) by Donna Bauman

Leaving the Party

As my husband and I prepared to leave the party, I discovered that I was carrying a copy of Guide for the Perplexed that I didn’t remember owning—but I was missing a shoe.


“Only you,” my husband said, “would trade a shoe for a book.”

“What’s worth more?” I asked, “Maimonides, or some old shoe?”

I knew that I had the better of the argument, and my husband would understand. After all, our first date had been a trip to a bookstore. But he just shrugged and sighed. Where had my book-loving husband gone?

“You’ve changed,” I said.

“It’s not that you have a book instead of a shoe,” he said, “It’s that you never remember making the trade. You’ve changed.”

It’s true that I sometimes head to the kitchen hoping to get a chocolate éclair from the freezer and return holding a small frog. I don’t know how the frog got into the kitchen. I just know that it’s something new, and interesting enough to make me forget the chocolate éclair. My husband should be glad that I can be distracted by a frog in the kitchen. Certainly, my waistline thanks me.

And I still have my wits about me. To prove it, when we returned home, I sat on the couch, opened Guide for the Perplexed, and started to read. I was, after all, perplexed, and could use a guide.


Author's Comment

I woke from dreaming of the images in the first sentence of this story, and knew I had to elaborate – but just a little bit.


Old Stranger: Poems
by Joan Larkin
Poem after poem, Old Stranger unearths moments that shape a woman's life. The poet's eye is unflinching as she sees the past folded into the present. Her body is the ground of deep soul hunger. Her language is music.
“To discover the ‘old stranger’ is a knife, not quite, it’s an old piano. No, it’s a book about mortality and the debt of flesh, about love, rot, relationship, smiles that cut like knives through every seeing moment. It’s about painting. It’s a beaut. There’s so much masterpiece here. I mean, wow, this is why one is a poet all their life. To make this.” — Eileen Myles, author of a "Working Life"   “Joan Larkin’s much-awaited Old Stranger: Poems is a miracle of compression, mystery, and innuendo. Here is a poet for whom craft is an extension of wisdom. Whether revealing the archetype secreted within an object, or the elemental, persistent grief within a memory, Larkin expertly hones the edges of poems like a luthier shapes a violin.” — Diane Seuss, author of Modern Poetry   "Engaging with curiosity and often startled affection, this poet tells of how it feels to be both enamored and shaken with what connections reveal. Quiet and absorbed, one reads this most graceful of books until pow and one is alerted!" — Jody Stewart, author of This Momentary World: Selected Poems
    More about Joan Larkin: Available from Alice James Books, Bookshop, and Amazon.


Lynn Gazis grew up in the suburbs of New York City, spent her young adulthood in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now lives in Southern California. She has worked for around 40 years in IT. More recently, she has started writing short fiction. Her stories have been published by Cathedral Canyon Review, Air and Nothingness Press, and Friends Journal.
As an artist, musician and poet, Donna Bauman says, “my life has been all about being a seeker, asking questions, exploring, creating. As a creator of beauty, I feel inspired to radiate as much of the feminine spirit as possible. I am here to bring inspiration into form. My desire is that my creations will enter into people’s lives in an inspiring and transforming way.”

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