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OUR FATHER/Robert Wrigley A hand, or the shadow of a hand, passes over. The wind, you'd think, or the way some sad, benevolent god might stroke the hovering raven, of all creation his favorite jewel. So now the hollyhocks shake their hankies and the dog looks up, abased by domestication, while the minions of aridity suffer their thorns and scales, singing world without love, amen. You'd think the raven's rosiny squawk was complaint, an oiled curmudgeonly beU. You'd think a decent god would allow a man to love another man. You'd think there was no place like hell but earth, awash in its armies and damned to believe in nothing so much as dollars and death, the economies of raven and of man—one who flies, one who tries and tries to pray. 146 · The Missouri Review MOVIES/Robert Wrigley On the move again, the kidney stone, rough as a barnacle chiseled off a pier, brought me to my knees before the video store's cool return slot. I slid the cassette inside, waved to the frightened clerk, and saw how clearly the sun winked once from the dangling keys in his hand. My forehead made a smeared, translucent flower on the window glass, my breakfast brought color to the sidewalk grit. AU the way to town I'd hung myself across the steering wheel and sung along in a cold sweat to the golden oldies station: "I feel good, I knew that I would," that famous verse from the Book of Job, in the exquisite James Brown translation. By noon, I was anesthetized and plumbed, coming to in a blue institutional room, where the kindly nun I'd once been neighbor to prayed for my complete and swift recovery. And here was the abashed and burly urologist, sheepish, no jagged, infinitesimal pearl in his paw, in a funk, my urinary tract spelunking having netted him nothing. Now from the hall an internist's voice demanding morphine, and my hand, The Missouri Review · 147 the rV having blown out its vein, fat as a ball glove and foreign at my wrist. So where are the boils and scabs? I think, and could that hirsute phlebotomist truly be the star of last night's film? The cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover. Consider the labor costs saved for me here, the self-administering Demerol pump clicking in my hand like castanets. O, sweet sisters of the Carondelet, tsk-tsking, I am taking the Lord's name in pain, in vain, as the hospital's new wing rises to the accompaniment of jackhammers on my skull. That's Captain America revving his hog across the hall, or just a flag, flaccid in the sterile air. I could be Bogart's Rick, bidding the perfect Ingrid Bergman of my healthy body good-bye. There's nothing on TV, but it's in color. And when I pee that first post-op time, the stainless steel urinal warming in my hand's no miracle at all: I've been drinking fire, I seem to have swallowed a sword. And it dawns on me, as they gather near my bed—the nurse, the surgeon in his tennis togs and lab coat, the grim, defensive urologist—that that is Bogart on the screen, damned near dead, peeling leeches from his legs and comforting Katherine Hepburn. "Wait a second," I say, and everyone moves 148 · The Missouri Review Robert Wrigley from the foot of the bed to the head, even the pink and lovely candy striper, holding out my lunch of JeIl-O, broth, and ginger ale. I need a shave, I'm greased with sweat. She swings the table across me. No one else can see her. She pats my hand, and her voice, running the gamut of emotions from A to B, assures me, I'm looking better all the time. Robert Wrigley The Missouri Review · 149 WANTING GOD/Robert Wrigley Even if I were not so drunk, but merely sick at heart, lost among the Uttered streets my life resembles, the lock on this church door would still offend me. I've been drinking the blood...


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