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EDEN/'George Bilgere When Sarah and JUl, after a few years Together, decided Sarah should become a man, They thought about it for a long time, Staring at Sarah's breasts in the candlelight As they hung dejectedly Like a pair of old dogs Someone decided to have put to sleep. And they looked between her legs At that wild gate that was like the first sentence Of a story they had grown tired of telling. They seemed to hear a kind of music Under the surface of her skin, a far-off joy— Years later, after the hormones and the stitches, The lopping and relocating, I met a slim, serious young guy Who had been Sarah At a cocktaU party in Monterey And we shook hands and had a couple of beers While I smiled and tried very hard not to feel As if a woman had sUt open the sack Of my scrotum and crawled inside, Confidently palming my testicles in her strong hands, Saying, There will be no more Secrets around here. The Missouri Review · 57 WAITING/George Bilgere When the guy in the dark suit Asks me if I want to see my mother As she Ues in the back room, waiting, I remember her, for some reason, In a white swimsuit, on a yellow towel On the sand at Crystal Lake, Pregnant with my sister, Waiting for me to finish examining The sleek fuselage of a minnow, The first dead thing I had ever seen, Before we went back to the cottage for lunch. I remember her waiting up for my father To come home from God knows where In a yellow cab at 2:00 A.M. And waiting for me in the school parking lot In our old blue station wagon When whatever it was I was practicing for Ran late. I remember her, shoulders thrown back, Waiting in the unemployment line, waiting For me to call, waiting for the sweet release In the second glass of wine After a long day working at the convalescent hospital Where everyone was waiting to die. And I remember her waiting for me At the airport when I got back from Japan, Waiting for everything to be aU right, Waiting for her biopsy results. Waiting. But when the guy in the dark suit Asks if I would like to go back And be with her in that room where she lies 58 · The Missouri Review Waiting to be cremated I say No Thank you, and turn and walk out Onto the sunny street to join the crowd Hustling down the sidewalk And I look up at the beautiful White clouds suspended above the city, Leaving her in that room to wait alone, For which I wiU notbe forgiven. George Bilgere The Missouri Review · 59 NECTARINES/George Bilgere The gay man standing next to me At the organic food store Is squeezing the nectarines With the same concentration I would give a woman's breasts Or he would give, Or might give—I don't really know— The weight between his lover's legs. He is trim, fortyish, wearing a pair Of vaguely European loafers And the kind of perfect haircut No styUst has ever felt I deserved. His slacks and T-shirt exist at a point On the spectrum of casual elegance Just beyond my ability to actuaUy detect it But they nonetheless make me feel, In my jeans and JC Penney sports shirt, Like a shambling, half-trained circus bear. When standing next to a woman In a supermarket I sometimes feel As if we were back in the Garden, A realm of fertile ferment Where we walk in a kind of heady sexual buzz Among the ripe fruits and frozen dinners of the world, Temptation everywhere As we scan the zebra codes Of our deliriously UnfamiUar flesh. And when I pass a straight guy In the aisles, we nod, or raise an eyebrow To acknowledge our place In the hairy fellowship of predators. 60 · The Missouri Review But when this man and I Look briefly into the Sanskrit, the blank Scrabble tiles of each other's eyes, We smUe briefly and go back Tb...


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