The Wondering Workshop

Israeli authors and poets creating in English

A Wolf, a Gazelle

Written By: Site Default - Nov• 09•10

She is running like no gazelle has run before. Mile after mile swoosh behind her lean body and disappear in the thick evening air. Trees seem to race past her, hurrying to unknown destinations in space and time, as her leaps glide over the ground, suspended in mid air. She leaps over a stone, kicking high, and a swarm of small birds flies up in panic, a split second ahead of her.

Then the impassionate eye of the video camera refocuses on a woodpecker. It is hammering on a tree at regular intervals – tok-tok-tok. Another moment and she speeds past it – she is there and now she is gone, beyond the rim of the picture.

On the other side of the lens, a man with very straight shoulder-length grey hair is following the image on the little screen of the camera. He nods to himself and rubs his long narrow jaw thoughtfully.

The camera is once more following her course. The trees grow thinner and thinner and finally give way to tall grass. Barely perceptible, the grass rustles under the cautious breath of a baby breeze. Behind the grass, a lazy mass of water glistens in the last rays of the setting sun.

Dusk is settling over the river. Out of the slow stream, a swimmer crawls back to his nest of towels. There, he lies still, showing his leathery back to the sun.

Another fifty meters down the river, a man is lying flat on his back and his round belly rises slightly over the tall grass. He rubs his hairy belly contentedly, as if he had just downed a fine pot of honey. A bee notices this hairy hillock in the grass and circles it inquisitively. The graceful runner races past the dozing man and he disappears from view.

Of course there are no hidden cameras along the running track at the river, just as there had never been one in the forest. It is a mystery how the moving image of the running woman travels to the little screen of the camera that the man with gray hair is holding. But it is happening nevertheless. The man with gray hair is following the image intently and ever so often he bares his teeth in a smile.

Further down the running track, two women, fat and curvatious like hippopotami, are pushing their prams side by side. In the thickening dusk, their curves swing in the slow rhythm of their walk. In one of the prams, an enormous baby is turning its head, observing the surroundings intently. The other one seems to be asleep.

She slows down a little and exchanges some pleasantries with the women, then moves on. The wild energy of her race through the forest is beginning to wear off. She is jogging now, letting her flushed body cool down. Her breathing is still a little too fast and her gentle nostrils flutter, as they perceive the smell of freshly mown grass.

In the grass, a group of four are grazing on the remains of a picnic. Their silhouettes appear in the periphery, unclearly, as if the runner’s tiredness had the power to blur the image.

It is getting even darker now and as the visual stimuli are gradually blended out, a world of sounds and smells emerges from the river. The first cricket gives out a tentative chirp, another joins in and the vibrating undertone of the southern night begins to unfold.

She turns to smell the freshly mown meadow on her right and almost stops. The smell of the grass must be overpowering now and as she runs slowly, she keeps turning her head to the right. In the night mode, her white running sneakers leave long trails on the camera image.

Finally she reaches a small paved surface with a couple of benches and comes to a halt. Her energy is spent and she is breathing heavily now, the heaving of her chest barely perceptible in the dark. Half-heartedly, she does a few stretching exercises and then gives in to exhaustion, curling her lithe legs in the mown grass. The movement ceases.

Today she ran like no gazelle has ever run before. The man with the camera smiles at the thought almost with tenderness. He puts the video camera in the center of the table, looking directly into the picture. Very carefully, he smoothes his gray hair. It is very straight now and its edges are touching his shoulders. He stretches, flexing every muscle in his wiry body, then gathers himself into a tight ball of muscle and sinews, as if preparing to jump into the night. The night is the time of the wolf.

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