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AT THE WALL OF FLAME / Liz Rosenberg "Love, that moves the sun, and the other stars." Here may be suffering, but not death, promised Virgil—but how would he know? Always the calm guide, gUding through the waters of phUosophy, the good citizen, neither in heaven nor in heU. Here Virgil stops, a great change comes at this crossing, when Dante passes through the flaming wall, Uke melting glass, in agony, alone to where his blessed lady waits gaudy in red and gold— the white-heat of his passion fanned alive for thirty years cool now as the waters of Paradise. She must have seemed a statue, a stone— and Virgti, fast-disappearing into oblivion at the curve of heaven, the beloved guide a ghost whom no hand touches, and no fire burns. 72 · The Missouri Review THE WINDOW / Liz Rosenberg In the window across the street the passersby walk by blurry, in colors of a circus poster, fleeting as clouds. Hear the rattle of cars, see the pink coat passing in the dark glass. If something trembles, is it a fault in the world, a loose pane, or a problem in the cornea? A local woman smears her naked body with chocolate, presents herself to a neighbor as an Easter present— what mania? How many days of false spring, false promise, a neighbor's wave mistaken as an obscene invitation? Consider it from his side; how she passed Uke a shudder over the lens of his horrified eye. Then you look across at the window again: see a dark square made up of two rectangles, framed in blue paint, with nothing inside. The Missouri Review · 73 AT SEVENTEEN / Liz Rosenberg I wanted you aU summer whUe you slept—or tried to sleep, inching yourself farther from me and closer to the waU. Searching for clues, the sUghtest sign, I watched aU that hot June whUe you lay Uke a chtid in fever, and once you cried Liz! I can't sleep! so mournfuUy I almost fled to the next Ufe where I wouldn't feel so lonely, so cast out. One cat slept on my lap, one on my chest, and God knows how I didn't die of heat prostration. But you'd died. You were dead, you said, your heart had turned to stone. I stroked your hair back from your forehead, held your hot hand, and laid my own head on the empty space above your ribs. I spent that summer alone to keep you company, to prove you weren't dead. Once, I'd felt your heart pound, felt your arms tremble when we kissed. 74 · The Missouri Review AT EIGHT A.M. / Liz Rosenberg Like a servant in the old courts of nobUity I walk a discreet three yards behind my son and his best friend, walking to school, their giant backpacks tails wagging the dog, as if they were going to be jet-propeUed. They're not. They dawdle along the way, hunkering down sometimes, and bumping into one another, spinning planets on the loose. FinaUy theirextra-sensory perceptionteUsthem a grownup is lurking around—my bootheels clacking on concrete, and one of them turns, and then the other, slowly, regaUy. "I just want to make sure you're safe!" I say, hunching my shoulders beggar-style. "Look, I'm not bothering you." My son gestures with one hand, Uke the Pope. "Come walk with us. We want you to." Now they can go back to fuU-time daydreaming, no interruptions at the curb—they güde across, looking no ways but down, and once I have escorted them inside the school—where the principal stands yelling in his big voice at the steel door, "Slow down! Don't run! Hurry up!" I walk back down leaf-Uttered streets, peopled by ghosts— last year's baby-sitter stands waiting for a bus, my brother-in-law safely asleep in Cleveland, lounges on the corner, reading the daUy news, back to the great ghost, still sleeping upstairs; the father of the prince, my husband, old man of the castle ruUng the final ruins of his dreams. The Missouri Review · 75 HOSPITAL ELEVATOR / Liz Rosenberg With...


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