Train to Chartres

imageCopyright 2014 by Jack a Urquhart

This morning we–my partner and I and our lovely French friend Véronique–are on the train to Chartres. It’s a place I first read about fifty (ahem) something years ago: Life Magazine. Mr. Joyner’s 8th grade home room.

I remember well the photos depicting the magnificent cathedral seemingly afloat on an inland sea of fog and field grass. A magical place, it looked to me. I remember thinking how living close to it must be something akin to inhabiting a fairy tale–a romanticized notion to be sure; and yet, one I’ve never fully dispelled.

Now, in just a little over an hour, I will walk into that space of childhood fantasy fully awake, a seasoned “homme d’un certain âge,” as Véronique might say–a guy who has certainly been ’round the block more than a few times (with the nicks, scrapes, scars to prove it!). Yet here I am, still as easily heartbroken, moved to tears, by the horrors we humans leave in our wake, as well as the wonders we can make–beauty that dazzles across the centuries.

It’s been more than half a century since my first glimpse of a manmade miracle in Life Magazine–an architectural wonder, an arc made of stone and stained glass soaring, levitating, above the fields of France (and a fair amount of bumpy, twisty, sometimes spirit-crushing miles between). And yet I still hope, and, yes, even expect to be dazzled. I expect to encounter magic. Ou au moins un peu, peut-être?

About jaurquhart

Jack Andrew Urquhart was born in the American South. Following undergraduate work at the University of Florida, Gainesville, he taught in Florida's public schools. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared online at Clapboard House Literary Journal, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies. He is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories and the short story, They Say You Can Stop Yourself Breathing. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Mr. Urquhart was, until 2010, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in Washington State.
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