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LOST ORDNANCE/ Walter Bargen The first shovelful is alive and rich. I'm down on my knees breaking clods with my hands; cool and smeared across my palms, clouding my fingernaUs, a damp earth that knows its time. Standing again, I drive the shovel's blade with a boot, hit something hard that releases a muffled ring. It happens a second time. I begin carefully to dig, remembering the midriver sandbar one dry spring on the Rhine a few years after the war. Staring into rippled shocks of light, I saw the black outline of a machine gun exposed by the retreating water and couldn't swim that current to save it. Defeated, I turned away. Those summers outside Mannheim, in the many-feet-thick fortifications overgrown by sapling pines, it was there I played my death over and over, at one jagged blown hole or another, on top of the parapet or in an empty gun emplacement, my cheek finding the carpet of moss, and somehow my body jumping up to rehearse the charge again. It didn't matter which side I was on, the dying was so easy. Around the perimeter, I dug up spent shell casings that had hardly aged, arranging their calibers along the concrete ledges of bulletThe Missouri Review · 39 riddled piUboxes. I'd toss their shiny brass, packed with dirt, into the air. And not far off the groomed hUls, where one slope bowed into another, as if they reaUy did go on beyond the entrance of white columns, their repeating marble pillared against a roof of engraved sky where words fell one letter at a time on upturned eyes. The surrounding flags streaked their colors through the wind, reminders of where once they left and then arrived across aU those fields flowing with white crosses and stones, stars and crescents, as if the most important things we do are done over and over. Holding my father's hand, walking the perfect rows, looking for no one name among the many, he was surprised not to find his own—battle weary, orders to hold his position fading. On weekends to be driven along roads, I'd see through the rain-flecked back window, fields of bomb craters turned upside-down in streaming lenses of rain. Still the craters fiUed with water, working themselves into weed-choked ponds, and even then there were frogs exploding into a new season. Through Weinheim and Ludwigshofen, couples in shorts and sandals strolled arm in arm, behind baby carriages and dogs straining leashes, as if it were normal to pass buildings with just one wall standing, rooms crowded with sky, under eaves with corners gouged out, stone and bricks scribbled with the graffiti of shrapnel. 40 · The Missouri Review Walter Bargen I work the shovel slowly now, an ocean, a continent of time away, feeling for the hidden edges, wanting to loosen without jarring, knowing of grenades, lost ordnance, that missed their wars, their seed slow to detonate in others' gardens and backyards, for other children who continue playing at the dead center of day. Walter Bargen The Missouri Review · 41 CALCULATIONS/ Walter Bargen There's no turning back, every street corner is crowded with the stares of people who haven't eaten in two days. Two days added to two days to two days. Echoes grow ravenous. Their clothes fall loosely. Their drab coats and gloves wrinkle deeper than skin and clothe someone else's body, someone with the same name and eyes, the same lips that used to speak only their own words. They are restless for no reason and turn their heads in unison looking up the street to what could be rifle shots and down the street to what could be rifle shots, or upward into a cloud-shredded sky to what could be wind knifed by sUence. They shift from foot to foot, lighting each other's cigarettes. They travel whole days on these street corners and aren't surprised to find themselves back where they started. Each evening the tales of their travels grow longer and more exotic. In these cold March winds, their thin clothes biUow, making room, inviting someone else to...


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