Nancy Ames

Calgary, Canada

I am a Canadian, originally from Ontario, and am now living in Calgary, Alberta. I have been writing for over 30 years and performed my...

Extracts from my reading VII

John D. MacDonald, “The Turquoise Lament”, 1973

Halfway along, a great big stewardess, a king-size pretty, came back and stopped and looked at me in a troubled way. I wasn’t eating, drinking, reading, listening to music, or watching the movie. I was sitting there with my eyes open. This was unthinkable! Would I like a drink? A magazine? A newspaper, maybe?

In A.D. 3174 the busy, jolly nosexicles on the planet Squanta III will sever our spinal cords, put us into our bright little eternity wombs, deftly attach the blood tube and monitor circuitry, remove the eyelids quickly and painlessly, and, with little chirps of cheer, strokes and pats of friendship and farewell, they will lower the lid and seal it, leaving us surrounded by a bright dimensional vista of desert, a smell of heat and sage, a sound of the oncoming hoofs on full gallop as, to the sound of a cavalry bugle, John Wayne comes riding, riding, riding…

“No thanks,” I said, “I’m just thinking.”

Henry James, “Portrait of a Lady”, 1881

“Well, they want to feel earnest but it seems as if they took it out in theories mostly. Their radical views are a kind of amusement and they might have coarser tastes than that. You see, they’re very luxurious, and these progressive ideas are about their biggest luxury. They make them feel moral and yet don’t damage their position. They think a great deal of their position; don’t let one of them persuade you he doesn’t for if you were to proceed on that basis you’d be pulled up very short.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “The Return” (in “Wine from These Grapes”), 1934

Earth does not understand her child,
Who from the loud gregarious town
Returns, depleted and defiled,
To the still woods, to fling him down.

Earth can not count the sons she bore;
The wounded lynx, the wounded man
Come trailing blood up to her door;
She shelters both as best she can.

But she is early up and out,
To trim the year or strip its bones;
She has no time to stand about,
Talking of him in undertones

Who has no aim but to forget,
Be left in peace, be lying thus
For days, for years, for centuries yet,
Unshaven and anonymous;

Who, marked for failure, dulled by grief,
Has traded in his wife and friend
For this warm ledge, this alder leaf:
Comfort that does not comprehend.

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