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THE MUSIC OF THE MARES/ Elizabeth Kirschner That winter I hauled frozen water buckets from the stalls to my stove, then warmed myself while listening to the aural sighs of wind coming through rag-jammed windows. After each storm, I shoveled a path from my door to the barn, knowing that animals grow heavier in hunger, like the snow I lifted and tossed. What chilly work it was to call out their names, like wishes cast down a well, until I could finally heave open the grain bin. Then whinnies resounded in the rafters, rich as the notes of canyon wrens. Spring did slowly rise and rise again, schooling the barn with its chartreuse dust while buds turned brown as tobacco or the coat of the mare due to give birth. On the night her foal surged forth, her whinnies came quietly, like curses said under the breath. Down in the field, those animals related by blood—mother, sister, aunt—sawed their teeth 36 · The Missouri Review against the fence rails while moving back and forth as though in a shooting gallery. I experienced that same sense of hope held within hope when, years later, my own child dawned within his deep environs. I was naked and while I dozed, briefly, between contractions, I felt dazed by the weight of washed air, so much so I wanted to leave myself behind and step back into the barn where the mares hung down their heavy heads, their hooves thunking against the stall boards like stones hitting moss. Inside, the pressure was deep— like a boat in sea water— but who was the vessel and who would be carried and over what roughness would we go? Elizabeth Kirschner The MISSOURI REVIEW · 37 BLOOM SCHOOL/ Elizabeth Kirschner The year I became a summertime blonde, I moved through air thick as mink, lingered most evenings at Bloom School. I turned slowly on the lowest swing, let dirt slip and fall between the soft peninsulas of my toes while waiting to be cured by the salty taste of boys. Barefoot, my breasts warmed by the triangular sail of a fruit-colored halter top, I fingered the strap marks hours in the sun had left on my body like a petroglyph. During the slowness of dusk, one of the boys would coax me toward blackberry thickets which rambled on and on about the eroticism of their tight, green fruits. The sharp tang locked inside each chartreuse bite was enough to stain my sense of the sensual with desire. All summer long, I lay beneath those pea-sized constellations, touching the berries, one by one, while my body shaped itself into a bowl deep enough to hold all that might perish, like fruit in dreamy heat. One boy tore off the strip of rawhide I kept tied around my ankle and called a bat scare as though it were an exotic scrap of lingerie. He slipped it between my teeth, warded off sounds murmured from within, sounds elongated by his touch, low and vibrating, like the altos in the church choir who took me beyond the feminine. Suddenly, I saw a bat flurry about. 38 · The Missouri Review I watched while it scoured the twilit sky of its dark, edible particles. My ears felt warm, tongued almost by the bat's silken motion and not by the boy whose hands went underneath the top of the Urne green bikini which held my breasts like heavy suggestions. I, too, wanted to pilot by invisible bands of sound and retreat into darkness and nuance, shadow-shifting shyness and movement akin to perfect pitch. Haunted by bat cry, by the warbling presence of this nightchristened creature, my flesh sounded out its deepest sense while engulfed by all the erotic is engrossed in. Touched and taught, I drifted into blossom— eerie, wanting, far from free. Elizabeth Kirschner The Missouri Review · 39 THE OLD BEAR/Elizabeth Kirschner Nelson Candy says he saw him cross the snowmobile trail which divides the field he recently hayed. "A white nose like an old dog's," he insists. They were hauling in strawberries, his wife and him. "Must be an old male—a mother would be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 36-43
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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