Today’s guest blog is by sisters: Solace in So Many Words contributor Joan Corwin and Nancy Megan Corwin who is a jewelry artist/metalsmith from the Seattle area.
Each year since 2004, Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in Seattle puts on Signs of Life, a contemporary jewelry art show and companion jewelry art catalog/literary journal. The show features work by nine artists. The catalog/literary journal pairs these jewelry artists with ten writers in a unique publication. This project combines gallery-owner Karen Lorene’s love of literature with her passion for jewelry art. Only 100 copies are printed. The Corwin sisters’ works appeared in Signs of Life 2010.
Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery shows the work of jewelry artists as well as antique and vintage jewelry. Facèré is located in the City Centre building at 1420 Fifth Avenue between Pike and Union in the heart of downtown Seattle. If you have time, check out Facèré ‘s website and you’ll find lots to keep you occupied. The jewelry is beautiful and unique and Karen Lorene has put out other publications, such The ABeCeDarian, which features jewelry art corresponding to the letters of the alphabet, Dancing with Bear, and Building a Business, Building a Life A Memoir and Workbook (you can read the first chapter in her blog).
At the Lake
A trill of voices, a hoot, a shriek, and, of course, a splash. Len strained to hear the children forty yards away on the bleached dock where they launched themselves into the lake in turns. He listened beyond the twittering birds, the incessant cicadas, the occasional jet plane, to catch a word or phrase. Sitting near enough to feel included, but safely out of the way of their antics, was his sweetly perfect five-year-old Emily. Knees to chest, she perched on the edge of the dock closest to the shore. She made such a tight little ball of pale flesh that from that distance, she looked like a pearl. He framed the image with his hands to keep it safe. But then she hopped down and ran into the shallow water to paddle briefly before returning to crouch near her older cousins.
“They whispering yet?” His bikini-clad wife Lily flopped into the Adirondack chair beside him, her shimmering blonde boy-cut sticking up crazily with bits of leaves from the overgrown lake trail. She’d caught him leaning toward the children, squinting with the effort to eavesdrop. He blushed. “You only have to worry when they start whispering,” she assured him, the laugh inhabiting her eyes.
He sat back and felt his gut shift. A pot-belly over thin legs, white chest hairs he would have plucked, except that he was certain his wife would notice their absence and his vanity. He resisted the urge to button his shirt.
Lily stretched her long legs and worked her feet into the sand. Desire warred with that slicing sense of age that assaulted him continually since Emily’s cousins had joined them at the lake house.
“It’s just this . . .,” Len began, thinking of the children again, “. . . this . . . all ages mixed together, all the sexes . . . you know.” He heard himself puffing with indignation.
What had possessed him to invite his wife’s four nieces and nephews, the youngest ten and the oldest sixteen, to join them at his lake cabin that year? After only a few days, he thought he would never be calm again. He was at the mercy of these children, particularly Zack and Chloë, newly ’tween-aged, who shared a sinister, sly-eyed contempt for everything but themselves, who snickered in a way that made him feel naked and soiled. He was acutely conscious of what these children must think of their middle-aged uncle with a wife fifteen years his junior. Acutely conscious of what they whispered, and where Emily was when they whispered it.
“Last night, Zack had them petrified with tales of Incas sacrificing virgins to the volcano god. I don’t even know if that’s true—did they? He used that word, Lil—‘virgins.’ ”
“I see—it’s the virgin part, not the sacrificing, that bothers you.” She reached behind her chair for her sun hat and crushed it onto her head, dousing the golden glow, but not his longing.
“Emily looked terrified!” Right on cue, one of the older girls shrieked from the dock. They saw her disappear and watched as she surfaced in a surge of water to laugh and make threatening gestures at the boys who had pushed her.
His daughter’s small figure dropped from the dock and headed toward them. At this distance, her swimsuit was just a green dash across her bright little body. Her hair, usually a white-gold halo like her mother’s, hung down in ropes that were dark with wet and looked too heavy for that tiny being. She swung her arms hard, and her stride was stiff with angry purpose. As she drew closer, Len could see that she was pouting. She plopped down between them and tucked in her chin, tracing in the sand with her fingers. “They’re telling stories. Scary ones.”
Lily took a towel from the pile at her feet and wrapped it around their daughter. Bundled like this, Emily was irresistible. Len stood and swept her up in his arms.
“Are they?” he exclaimed, willing to play the fool if it would tease her out of her sulk. “Bullies!”
“Oh, Len!” Lily stood, too, and stroked the hair back from her daughter’s eyes.
But Len’s buffoonery had its effect: Emily smiled. He put her down and cupped his hands around his mouth. “Scoundrels!” he yelled at the others. The figures paused. One of the boys pointed to him and waved. “Hoodlums!” shouted Len. He shook a fist. They capered and hallo-ed back, until the lake took their attention again.
Emily was giggling now. “They’re funny—mostly.”
“Mostly funny and partly—bullies.”
Satisfied, Emily let the towel slide from her shoulders as she scampered back to join the line of children, dark hair and light glinting like nacre in the low sun, shadows stretching behind them now as they barreled to the end of the dock and jumped.
Just then the sun struck the edge of the lake, and gold flared out across it, like foil, dazzling him, flashing over and over in the ripples the children made where they plunged.
As the sun eased itself into extinction, the shining gathered itself inward toward the opposite shore, where a broken line of trees reached shadow arms, black stains in the deepening green tones of the lake, toward Len and his young wife and the now shivering children. One day, those nieces and nephews would be old and unsure. But not now. His Emily would become an adolescent, then a teenager, and abandon herself to life without fear or thought. But not yet. One day, Lily might have had enough of her old man. One day, the shadows would have them for good and all.
Tonight would be everything he could want.
© Joan Corwin, 2010
Thanks to Karen Lorene for letting me reprint this from Signs of Life 2010. Thanks to Nancy Megan Corwin and Joan Corwin for sharing their work.
Nancy Megan Corwin is a jeweler/metalsmith, teacher and writer in the fields of contemporary and historic art metals. In 2009 Megan produced a process and gallery book on the techniques of chasing and repoussé, titled, Chasing and Repoussé: Methods Ancient and Modern. She has an MFA in art metals from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has taught in universities, colleges, and art centers for over 35 years. In 2009 Ornament Magazine did a feature story on her work, including her studio practices. Her work is in private collections and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the State University of New Mexico Art Gallery at Las Cruces, and the Tacoma Art Museum, WA. She shows at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA.
Joan Corwin has a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University and has taught English and Victorian cultural history in Chicago-area colleges and universities. Her nonfiction publications include articles on the topic of her dissertation, the Victorian travel narrative. Her fiction has appeared in a number of literary journals, among them StoryQuarterly, Sycamore Review, Inkwell, The Madison Review, River Oak Review and Roanoke Review, as well as in the anthologies Solace in So Many Words (Weighed Words, LLC) and Falling Backwards: Stories of Fathers and Daughters (Hourglass Books). Honors include the Dana Portfolio Award, the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction, the Tusculum Review Fiction Prize and the Pearl Short Story Award. Her short story “Hindsight” was a winner in Chicago Public Radio’s Stories on Stage Competition, and her prize-winning novella Safe Shall Be My Going was published in the first annual Press 53 Open Awards Anthology. A member of three Chicago-area writers’ groups, Joan is currently co-president of The Writers (of Glencoe), an organization with a 60-year history on the North Shore. Joan lives with her husband in Evanston, IL. She is at work on a novel set in West Texas, Oregon and Chicago.