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LOVE, A DARK, UNTITLED COMEDY/ Jesse Lee Kercheval I see my love for you as a tin cup fuU of feathers, a kit for making angels to deliver non-believers. I love you, you write back, but that won't save me. You see yours for me as a book lent to an infant in a basket when language is what's missing. Surprise, I write you, I know a goldfish buys you nothing. Our love always the stranger with someplace else to go, a coat, a gown walking down the road, feet following, while we sit, each of us beside our mailboxes hoping for a picture postcard, bUssful ration of words from one another. Words to draw the sting, to numb the swings of the body's brief duration to take life Ui its teeth, dirty string, and tie a lasting knot. The Missouri Review · 109 DEATH, A SECOND TRIP BY SEA/ Jesse Lee Kercheval No matter how much we love our skin, life will finish its work and leave our bodies, poor dead things. Leave them underground. Box turtles listening to insects, their small short breathings, feeling the green grow in our bones, the black around us dense as Ucorice. Above us, landscape. If Florida, sand and thistle, heat, long, generous and Southern. If Wisconsin, a field on which snow sits all winter like a white, still swan. Over us, limestone angels, bored and nearly human, their wings folded, killing time. Unless our families have us cremated, bring us home in the kind of tiny box that holds expensive presents. Imagine being sprinkled from a plane, feeling vertigo, the best of us transformed Ulto small and floating clouds, 110 » The Missouri Review the rest, white haU, falling on the farms below. What wiU it feel Uke, death? Sudden, cold, each life a fish caught and thrown down on concrete. Or wUl we be Uke chUdren? playing hatless, gloveless Ui the snow, not feeling cold, not knowing of the world or its significance. AU I know is this— on our second trip together, the boat becomes the water, the ocean of aU time. From the shore, our famUies wave and we wave back, smiting bUlboards, already only pictures of ourselves. Down below Ui the cabins, Ui stacked bunks, strangers sleep, dreaming of some god, good heart, who wUl take us all in hand. And if there is none? Then we wiU have to help each other and there, perhaps, the good begins. Jesse Lee Kercheval The MISSOURI REVIEW · 211 AUGUST IN MY NEIGHBOR'S GARDEN/ Jesse Lee Kercheval 1. Fluff from the cottonwood floats past your old roses, lost wishes, turning the lawn into a feather bed. Clouds come to earth just for a visit. We made skies like this in kindergarten with blue construction paper, glue, Uttle dabs of cotton. Take a picture, you said. Keep it. Next year in it, we will look so young. 2. You said Enid and Lou didn't ask to be born starlings. You, who were up every night for weeks feeding them worms and fish meal. Remember? I tucked a five Ui your wallet to buy crickets from the bait store. Outside, in your garden, there are crows big as cats. Black cats. The kind of black that makes me 222 · The Missouri Review want to say Raven. But are they? 3. Now, in your garden, green apples fall, turning the picnic table Ulto a drum, startling a chipmunk sleeping on your sundial. They hide in the grass, perfect, useless, chUdren who won't grow up or old. Where are you now, I wonder? The wisteria is blooming. Only you could tell me, Oh honey, it always does this time ofyear. fesse Lee Kercheval The Missouri Review · 213 WORLD AS DICTIONARY/Jesse Lee Kercheval Book dog ball spoon My daughter knows two dozen words, common words, and they are everywhere. Up is her word for motion up is up and down the stairs up with her arms raised is carry me, Momma. And I do pick her up make her part of me again. From the seventh floor she sees her father bundled pass below. Hat, she says, coat. She's...


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