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AFTER MY FATHER ????/Kerry Hardie The sky didn't fall. It stayed up there, luminous, tattered with crows, all through January's short days, February's short days. Now the year creeps toward March. Damp days, grass springing. The poplars' bare branches are fruited with starlings and thrushes. The world is the body of God. And we— you, me, him, the starlings and thrusheswe are aU buried here, mouths made of clay, mouths fiUed with clay, we are all buried here, singing. 56 · The Missouri Review TENT/Kerry Hardie He set up the tent before he went trekking in Georgia, slept there a couple of times, just practicing, then off he went. It was August. I was here alone. The first three nights I looked out from the window at the small red dome in the orchard under the trees, then I went to bed in our bed. The fourth saw me in pyjamas carrying a sleeping bag down, crawling in. I lay on my belly, looking out at the apple trees, heavy with dusk and unripe fruit and the house, away off at the top of the garden, black against the half-dark summer sky. In the night the rain came, loud on the flysheet, I woke and slept and woke and slept again. Come morning I rolled over, opened the zip, threw back the flaps. The house was where it had been. Unchanged. Sufficient to itself. I felt released from it and easy down there with the bright, damp trees. I slept in the tent for two more nights, telling no one, then went to our bed instead. The Missouri Review · 57 Now it's November. Choosing my time I dig leeks for the table in the gloom. I like being out. The wind and the mud and the lit house shining through the dusk. I Uke its yellow warmth, and how Tm off from it, no longer snugly dressed in my own life. Perhaps, as for him, it's a sort of rehearsal. Perhaps Tm practicing for when I am unfleshed and free. 58 · The Missouri Review Kerry Hardie RAIN IN AFRIL/Kerry Hardie I was squatting beside Carmel's lilies of the valley, poking with my finger, loosening the soil, providing a bit of encouragement for the wands of white bells they're about to make, bells with a scent on them thick as a waU, a scent that would drown you in remembrance, when suddenly the AprU wind got up and dumped a pouring of silver-grey ram on my back and my head, and I saw him run for the house but I stayed liking the cold wetness and the sudden rip of the wind rocking the birch and sounding the wooden chimes in the Malus japónica, a tree that is being daily denuded of its rose-red buds by the bullfinches that we watch as we sit in bed drinking morning tea and marveling at their crunch and spill of tender bud all around, then speak of the sense in shooting them as my grandmother did, lining their shameless plumage up in the sights of her single-barreled shotgun, dropping them out of as-yet-unstripped apple trees, the same grandmother who planted my childhood with lilies of the valley. So I was squatting there, and everything was thin— thin grass, thin light, thin buds, thin leafing of trees, thin cloud moving fast over thin smoke-blue of the mountain— and I knew this thinness for promise-to-be-delivered, lovelier even than May—the promise delivered— like the thinness of some people who never quite settle here, never grow solid and fixed in the world, people like accidental double exposures, translucent, with maybe a watering can or a wall or a phone box coming through— and yes, I was thinking, April is like this, some people are like this, in a minute or two the rain will pass over, the light willfill out and this strange thin moment that's see-through to somewhere else will have bowled away offwith the rainy wind up the valley— The Missouri Review · 59 TRAPPED SWALLOW/Kerry Hardie The trees are quiet and moist, they...


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