forest

“Sculpted Marble Midnight”, “Hidden in the Forest” and “The Lucky Men”

by Natalie Gasper

Sculpted Marble Midnight

I walked through the walls of the Louvre

and noticed the Hall of Sculptures was still

asleep. I tiptoed in and took a deep breath.

As I exhaled slowly, a springtime breeze,

Winged Victory of Samothrace shook

out her wings. Her marble gown,

a cascading waterfall, flowed as she flew

around the room. Arria and Paetus

sprung into action as they waltzed

to a harp only they could hear. Paetus

spun her into my arms, so we danced

a foxtrot across the worn stone

floors. A chorus of strings caught

my ear, so I bowed and moved

to the Hall of Paintings, where

The Wedding at Cana beckoned

to me. A minstrel reached out

and pulled me into his world. Violins

and cellos kept time with the smiles

as the guests and I laughed and ate

large plates of roast. It wasn’t long until

the sun’s warm arms reached through

the layers of vibrant oils and I found

myself a mere spectator once more.

I headed back through the walls

to the glass pyramid, a beacon

of diamonds, north on a compass,

and smiled at Polaris as he shimmered

in the shadow of a fading moon.

Hidden in the Forest

I run my hand down the cool, moist armor

of an oak tree and smile,

because the tangled chestnut roots

are the synapses of a brain commanding

a kingdom that exists over thousands

of miles. The forest is a society

that speaks in decades,

thinks in centuries,

and flourishes in generations.

So it seems, if you survive a certain

age, your only enemy becomes

the years as they disappear, for Time

is a quicksand pit that steals, loses, or kills

most everything. I look at the oak before

me, its uppermost boughs

do the Tarantella with the crisp autumn

breeze while the roots sink ever

lower, the tree as everlasting

as the beating of a warrior’s cowhide drum.

The Lucky Men

I.


They are the lucky men.

They are the living men.

Returning to homes

carved from childhood games

and aunties’ sugar cookies.

They live next to each other,

build their white picket fences

together. Not noticing

the paint as it starts to crack

from the sun and rain.


A breeze, a gust, a gale, a storm.

A rain drop, a sun drop, a snow flake.


They who get to feel it all,

with golden skin and golden

smiles surrounded by children

with golden eyes and golden

laughs. Laughs. Who can remember

what it feels like to laugh, except

For the lucky men.

The living men.


II.


We are the tarnished,

the broken, the forlorn.

Looking at our brothers’ names

that now adorn white stones.

Our minds are like tin men,

with no hope of striking

oil. Each day brings a fight

between the camo and the tie,

between old secrets and new lies.


We wish we could

join our men that rest

in peaceful sleep beneath

the diamond studded sky,

with a brother to each side,

never fearing for our lives.


Raise a glass up to the day

we meet the General in the sky.


III.


This is a deserted land.

This is an elephant graveyard.

A sloping field, filled with green

that was built on red, never mind

the blue and white. Or all those stars

and thirteen stripes that wave goodbye.


They dig dig dig and they

dig dig dig. Someone’s new

forever home sunk

into the icy ground,

as a lonely trumpet sounds

a final, fatal, string of taps.

Day is done, gone the son.


IV.


Eighth grade students mill

and roam beside the onyx

leviathan, engraved with names

that used to have futures. A doctor

a lawyer a plumber a teacher.

A father.A mother.


All they see are empty letters.

All they see are charcoal canvases.

A solemn boy, an uncle short,

kneels to leave a daisy, a scribbled note.


When out of sight

then out of mind,

for no one minds

what they can’t see,

right before their eyes.

His hands caress the dusty name

of Alexander Tsiro.


V.


Mine eyes have seen the glory

as he tramples out the vintage

where the grapes of wrath are stored

with the fateful lightning of His

terrible swift sword.


I am the lost one.

I am the forgotten one.

Forever without name,

forever in an unmarked grave.

I am without home.

The watch-fires of a hundred circling camps


Passing years brought

company, a group of three

all just like me, adorned

in white and marked

by wreaths.

They have built an altar in the evening damp


The Old Guard

keeps their watch,

like an arrow

hitting true.

Through rain and sleet,

snow and heat,

my bones they’re sworn

to keep.

He has sounded from the trumpet that shall never call retreat


Now to await

his judgement

seat, what’s left

shall fly on swiftest

feet, one last

eternal march.


As He died to make men holy, we died to make men free



(in response to T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men)

About the Author

Natalie Gasper

Natalie Gasper graduated from the University of Central Florida last May with a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. She splits her time between all forms of writing, horseback riding, and working for Amazon.