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THE TRAIN TO NEATH/ William Greenway Like lantern blur through fog, we ride across the coal-dust river to the cinder bank of the other side, almost disembodied, dead, gUding along aloof and looking over garden waUs and into potting sheds, past flowered council housing shades to rooms where peat fires smoke and photos on the mantle craze and fade. The backs hold sticks of broken winter frames whose shards of hothouse glass infect a knacker's yard of furniture gone lame after the mines were closed. Now coal is scarce, the union hall is used for bingo, everyone is on the dole. We watch as lovers mime goodbyes into the dark; the conductor stamps our tickets with his cross, or ankh—he thinks we want to disembark, instead of this continued opportunity of sliding past and looking at eye-level life with insular impunity, like the cushioned joints we barely feel, the rails so close but still detached, thumping out their muffled pairs of wheels like heartbeats under wool, a demi-death— the double panes of windows holding back our words but showing us our breath. The Missouri Review · 209 AT ARTHUR'S STONE/ William Greenway They say on simmer dim this stone wiU stand then walk the long slope down to Burry to drink. At the winter solstice, hand-in-hand for now, the truce between us holding for a whUe, we walk the frosted rusty red of autumn fern, past a mouldering pfle of wUd Welsh pony bones to see the grave of an early king, a stone balanced long ago on other stones. We touch its blotched gray flank as milUons have, for luck, as though solidity and poise, its blank face could cure us of our yearnings, keep our lives together till we die. Nearby^ a cairn of those like us, a heap of stones too numerous to name, too smaU to walk, that mark the grave of men who dragged or saUed it here to rest on taU and humpbacked Cefn Bryn, to overlook the bay of cockle sands that glisten when the tide is out, and be the shrine of girls who came to lay mUk-soaked honey cake upon the ground before this altar stone, and crawl three times around, and if her love were true he would appear, transported from whatever distant place, easing through the mist to meet her here. 110 · The Missouri Review The moon comes up behind a pony white as a unicorn, the sun goes down and pinks the sky and bay before the night recaUs this postcard from the past. Too far away to see the cars and houses with their shipwreck masts of washing poles and sateUite dishes, we might be a pelted pair of ancient, shivering, short-Uved, walking wishes staring at the mound where we wiU lie. And every longest day, the sun will squint between the lids of sea and sky that never close, and from this height— as we dream our centuries of thirst through the long, pink, dying light— like a mote in an eye that cannot blink, the stone of one who lost his love will walk to the sea to drink. William Greenway The Missouri Review · 111 TEETH WILL BE PROVIDED/ William Greenway The breath of all those sermons blows down these vaUeys like the fog, like a hymn when the wind makes organ music of the ruined houses and bouldered hiUs. As the son and grandson of one of the Welsh who would hywl hell fire, I recognize the chapel gloom that hangs and falls like night in the winter by four. My grandfather passed down no's to my father who put them in me where I carry them into middle age, no way · around the coal-dust darkness of a Sabbath parlor or the leather strop of Bible cover, taking even to Georgia's new Eden fire and brimstone to light satanic cotton miUs, fluorescent sanctuaries of Southern Baptist Sunday night. There's the world's way and the Lord's way they used to say— from pulpit or the car's front seat— of scout camp, liquor, cards, Ed Sullivan on Sunday or the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 109-116
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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