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THE COLD WAR/Eric Pankey My mother nods off. A lit cigarette Elegant between her long fingers. The arm of the divan riddled with burns. Lightning, out of sync, preens the maple. What is the square root of yesterday? How did I solve for the door ajar? There's no end to it, my father would say. My mother nods off. A lit cigarette Elegant between her long fingers. The burns like islands on an oily sea, The obsolete map of an archipelago Where the Bomb was tested year after year. There's no end to it, my father would say And ask me to warm up his drink. The unknown, the variable we call if. Upholstery smoulders more than it flames. Lightning, out of sync, preens the maple. The Missouri Review · 59 BYGONES/Eric Pankey What is the past but everything: The not-there between memory And foreground, between suffering And a moment's hardened amber? Still, each word gives way to silence And I must reinscribe this scrawl, This impermanent graphite ghost As signature on these torn scraps. In the end I will be voiceless. The earth that held me down will hold Me once again, unforgiven, Without a plea. Once, I listened And heard far off the fire break Ignite with the song of crickets. I heard a cold wind at loose ends In the brambles and witch hazel. I heard my brother say his prayers, Not as rehearsed words enacted, But with a child's solemnity. I heard the snap of a dog's jaw, The thud when the truck knocked it down. I heard the refrain, I ain't got No home in this world anymore, Stuck as these lines stick in my mind, But the rest of the song was lost: Each unsaid word driven in edgewise, A silence etched by burin and acid. 60 · The Missouri Review THE ANNIVERSARY/Eric Pankey 1. The constellation Virgo harbors a black hole at its center, but tonight I see the moon, ordained, a basilica of salt, mouthing its one secret like a saw-whet owl, and all that might be culled, collected , and classified beneath it, named as a disposition of objects, as a taxonomy, an order, a genus, or subject matter, is smeared with this salvaged and chalk-dry light, this fine- grained and corrosive distillate, this heirloom dust that gathers on the pearl button of the glove, its little satin noose. When I said, "But tonight I see the moon," I did not tell the whole truth, for I have not even looked outside, but have relied on the conventions of memory, and with a word or two the moon, like a body under siege, wears thin outside my window, the moon forages in the attic, the moon is hauled up like a broken whetstone from a well, for that is what I do with a word or two: avoid scrutiny, avoid measuring the lead weight of my own heart. The Missouri Review · 61 CENOTAPH/Eric Pankey 1. In the shallow domain of light's fitful flare, An aviary of silt and minutia drifts: Pinpoints of citron, lilac, and sulfur, Chips of shell-pink, a medusa's plume and ruff, Coral cleaved and sundered, its dust offcast, A constellation untied from its mooring. How close the splintered sun that bracelets my wrist. I reach down through to the edge of my seeing, Beyond the fan vaulting of bladder wrack, Through eel grass, through fallow shadow realms, But I cannot pull you back to the surface, You who are the body of confession, The cold weight of water that unearths a grave. The night above you is a capsized hull: No air finds its way through the caulked seams. How long did the crescent moon trawl in the wake? How long before the wake itself collapsed? Before North and South held the same compass point, Marked the same unfathomable distance home? Nothing can hold the body for long. Burned by salt's caustic, ropes would frazzle And a canvas shroud, rived and flayed, Would let loose the dark matter of its cargo, Thus I offer only provisional words: 62 · The Missouri Review Each a winding...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 59-65
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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