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FAMILY REUNION/Daniel Halpern What you haven't said for forty years comes back at you aU at once: long distance, static-free but clinging nonetheless. Distant voices tied to your soul with cords of blood from aU the days you Uved out in seamless chUdhood, hourless, but moment by moment, a boy-child irreversibly growing toward time. What you've never said, so many occasions passing without response—postcards, a dime after rune when the rates were down, simple terms of endearment that became forbidden words impossible to utter even m soUtude—passes over tonight. Together now we have what we've Uved and what we Uve now. Two Uves, additional families. I keep as private mantra the required words of commitment, the speech of endearment: formula, language of the speU—the censored vocabulary bringing us together, holding us under the stars as no bonds other than our being here could keep us, bound, knowing beyond what we can each say, even though we say it. Even though we don't. 40 · The Missouri Review AKT/Daniel Holpern In the cinéma vérité of the sixties the beautiful protagonists always came so close, so close to the everlasting sunset they were so desperately scripted to ride into. And we, passives, onlookers, pressed forward in our collective seats and rooted for them, individually and collectively. In the end it went poorly for those we cheered. As if in imitation art led us down its artificial path, every branch blossoming, the thyme walks kicking up the herbal scent, the insects insane for the goodwill so well distributed. Good news has the metabolism of a hummingbird, its instrument not long attuned to this world. Bad news won't extend the prognosis, but time slows down at its intervention. The news, because it's finite, is never good for long. But when the sun rises over the hüls, the colored scents ofAugust, the autumnal months, find current and pass on the air. We're okay. It's the most we can expect, the temperature of objects in various weathers, the satisfaction of things fitting together, whether in the hand or the mind. We're happy to sit down, properly attired to a meal at day's end, knowing the days are numbered, but the evening is long. The Missouri Review · 41 THE LONELINESS OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN/ Daniel Halpern The definition ofbeauty is easy; it is what leads to desperation. —Paul Valéry for Steve Dunn The burden of beauty for beautiful women is loneliness, the loneliness of being watched. For those moved by beauty the burden is simply the burden ofbeauty— a configuration seen suddenly that clings for a long time— Uke something so grotesque it can't be dislodged from the figurative eye of the mind—that lingers with the uninhabited narrative of meeting, eventual exchange, the fruitless pursuit of passion. If the beautiful are lonely I want to abandon them to their solitude, however beauty inhabits it, free myself of the burden of beauty, set it down and simply move on, available again to what comes along— why go beyond the recognition of beauty? 42 · The Missouri Review Tm thinking of the famous story of two Zen monks who, arriving at a river's edge, find a woman waiting to cross. The older monk lifts the woman to his shoulders, carries her to the other bank and continues walking. The two men are silent now, both reflecting but one burdened. You know it isforbidden to carry women, the younger monk says. And the other repues, I left her at the river, but you are still carrying her. Daniel Halpern The MISSOURI Review · 43 THAW/ Daniel Halpern We wondered where the headlands were, if we were meant to follow one of the various rivulets north, back up through rock-base and bird-perch, to come upon a gentle pasture, a grassy breach above rock and the rook's nest, beyond the tight, speedy passage of water gaining momentum in the thaw and flow, detachment of recent whiter—seasonal loosening, distilled fish rising to surface bait, to hook and eye of the wanderer, eye of the sun, opaque lunar tooth. And...


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