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CROSSING BORDERS/Adrie Kusserow Fiji—YaIo Spirits In Fiji, yalo spirits leave the body to tattle on the self, slippery essences closer to fog than semen slide into the neighbors' ears all the juicy detaüs of a married man's affairs. What is kept inside the skull grows like a tumor, some smell it like a fetid egg, sense it through an itching breast, a vague sense of heat. A woman's secret pregnancy keeps a whole village from catching fish, collapses a tune, nudges the sick closer to death. Hair falls out, cakes won't rise, breasts dry up like prunes. At night niju spirits enter the body through fluid contours of a dream. Some possess the victim for days, as a dry voice, Ulness or heaviness in the limbs, the whole village crowding inside, the young ones creeping through the windows like monkeys, the elders hedging bets on what it will take for the niju to leave. The chief, too busy bargaining with the niju, The Missouri Review · 135 designates two men to urinate for him. April, New York—Anorexia Nervosa In New York, a young girl Ues alone in her room, her bones light as kindling, her mind heavy as soggy fruit. Too weak to rise, she floats in a haze of lightheadedness. What anchors her to the bed is the small iron box of will inside her, her mind sliding over it, habitually, like a tongue runs over the fiUing of an old cavity. At night she lies awake, her fingers tracing the terrain of her skin, her Yale T-shirt absorbing the night sweats of a body locked in. Outside, earth nudges its grubby paws up through snow, she smells hunger, gears shifting, death grinding back into life. She obsesses on the irony of bodies— 98 percent water, condemned to the life of a solid, the way spring makes the flesh a cage. Didn't she read, in Mungara, the dead are soaked in oUs and salt, the skin falling off the bones like wet leaves from a limb? The soul resides 136 · The Missouri Review Adrie Kusserow in what drips to the cup, the rest discarded for scrap. She figures she still looks pretty normal, thin, yes, but no one back at the dorm has spoken to her. She hears her mother creep up the stairs, knock gently, asking politely would she like to talk. No thank you, she hears leaving her mouth, a strange voice made of gossamer fabric from a country she has never seen. Her mother's shadow slithers under the doorway over her bones like a stream over rocks. She dares not enter, obeying as she must the gods of privacy lodged like gargoyles outside her door. She wants to say, Mama, wait, to lie with her like bark in the rich dark light. What saves her is the steel box of will inside her— its gravitational pull, its cultural charisma. How easily it reels her frail body back, branding her with an I. Adrie Kusserow The Missouri Review · 137 HUNTING DOWN THE MONK/ Adrie Kusserow After my father's death, I knocked on my mother's door, me four feet tall, red leather purse in hand, fingers soft as bread and told her I am headed to a nunnery. I was going to God and there was nothing she could do but take the small nun in my size 6 habit (headdress lifted from the armchair cover) against the slack of her belly and contain me for the night. Even then I knew a good high when I felt it, the buzz of grabbing the tail end of some god's magnetic pull, like a baby finally latching on to the nipple for a good hard drag. That day I was taken from school I rode to the hospital in the back of Mrs. Farmer's Chevy saving my saliva in a Twinkie bag stolen from a mean girl's lunch, she thinking I was throwing up from the shock, me wanting to bathe his skull in what I knew was good and warm. Nineteen, wandering in the Himalayas, at a monastery in the clouds, I had just...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 135-145
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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