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HORSE, I REASON/Jane Wampler Nobody Ui our house could rest. Father's ghost was summoned Nightly by Mother Who needed to know if he mourned Her broken ribs, her broken nose. Katie Baby, he'd say. Looking real good, Like fifteen years before he died, She said. But He never came to a corner of mine. Four years old. I lie face up On the back seat while Father drives us slowly Through Lincoln Park. I'm looking At sky, flickers of green, and white globes of glass On the top of wrought-tion poles When he says Look at the horse. Sitting up I see parked cars, people, More trees. How can I see When I don't know what I am looking for? Horse, I reason, is a white globe of glass. When he dies, it is all candles And channels. Revelations that come to her In visions. For me it is my father resting On a satin piUow; drawings My third grade teacher finds alarming, Sends home with notes. It is Mother and I on my eighth birthday With lake winds sticing our skirted legs. We've stepped off the El and now We are ducking into doorways To escape the cold. At the river I look beyond my patent leather dress shoes The Missouri Review »137 To the plunging gaps between The hinged cement. I see dark air and riffles Below. To drag this river is to exhume Every one of this city's afflictions: to see The way the bosses bury their dead And keep them down; to see how thick The water, how slick the diesel rainbows, Pooling from behind Docked boats; to see the absolute Desperation of those who must squeeze Through the painted rails. Ifyou don't want to see them They won't come to you. I used to think it was her superior faith That made the other side Open wide. I liked the idea Of twitching my nose Or crossing my arms and blinking My way in to a new famUy— One with a maid and gentle, Pleasant people. But the thought of Talking to the dead blinded me. I only wanted their esteem. I rode the El for years Without ever seeing the man At the controls who sent us lurching And rocking, pitching through blackness Just inches from a damp wall. I finally see him one night In a compartment in the last car, Speaking into a microphone, pulling levers Like the man behind the curtain In The Wizard ofOz. He is saying the next stop is Randolph Street. But you wouldn't know that If you didn't know what to listen for. 138 · The Missouri Review Jane Wampler Have you ever Known someone who was murdered? Did you love him More than your own father? Two junked-up robbers put a bullet Into big Harold's beautiful forehead when I was ten. He'd startled them, coming in early From dinner. First he saw his mother Bound and gagged In her wheelchair. Next he saw. When I heard, I knelt At my bedroom window, Elbows on the chipped white sill And searched the early night Sky for a sign. I was training In the art of arguing with the irrevocable, Making the moon doggie And incandescent clouds stand for things They were not. I was looking so hard I was seeing nothing. I was seeing Everything at once. I was getting it AU wrong. Jane Wampler The Missouri Review · 139 DANCE FOR ME/Jane Wampler I'm eating peanut butter by the spoonful and watching Star Trek; it's the one where Bones and Spock are wearing togas and being forced to perform classical ditties for an emperor. You laugh, but we all dance for someone— whether we know it or not. At a bar once with my friends we agreed to dance with eyes closed. When I opened them they'd been watching me running my hands down my sides and rocking my hips, surrendering to the music. Each spring I am laid flat by the inevitable. I Uve where April snow is measured by the thigh and still, the ridiculous jonquils rock...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 137-145
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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