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AT A GLANCE / Walter Bargen Beyond the front door a silhouette on a low branch squawks, then flies, as if only half-made for flight, as though something medieval fell from a lichen-stained parapet. I guess wood duck, though it is so far from steady water I can't be sure, unlike the crows who crowd the oaks nearly every morning, clearing their harsh throats; no doubt about their opaque presence. It's the same with the wide-winged glide of vultures in summer, blackened by the sun, their raw heads cocking loudly to one side as they pass overhead; or last night, in a record low April cold, as she held a flashlight and called, hearing a tear in the forest floor, an explosion of leaves and a stuttering squeal, and directing the thin beam like a baton, conducting the dark from tree to tree and through the bushes in between, searching for something to save. As if life isn't teased into death, slowly she approached the cat, calmly calling its name, picking it up and placing it over her shoulder as she would a child out too late and now safe. She turned 250 · The Missouri Review toward the house, the flashlight pointing down, catching one at a time the brilliance of her bare legs, a corner of her naked hip, and the secret shining wing flying up between her thighs. Walter Bargen The Missouri Review · 2S2 REPORTING IN THE OFF SEASON /Walter Bargen We are caught in the middle and Friday nights, if the diamond is dry, the batter stands at the plate, swings at some indefinable in between, Zeno's sandlot gully where the ball is lost, and watching the hypnotic stitching spinning slowly, a celestial body knuckled through space, the hidden speed, the umpire's explosive report as the bat sweeps the air, a white cane, and having touched nothing solid, he is spun around, left on his knees in a small swirl of dust, flood lights, and deluge of jeers, and refusing for once the shame, steps back, treading the finely raked earth, and with the bat hits the side of each raised shoe, loosening the clods between the cleats; and maybe, every Saturday morning thirty years ago, that is what the Scrub Dutch thought washing south St. Louis sidewalks, shoes off at the door, worshippers of the perfect Nazi body, cleanliness the way to connect, the soul's home run, the everlasting Jesus floater that catches the wind and clears the fence, never falling on the warning track, converting the terminal into the manageable; and even now, in the off season, when the pencilthin stalks of golden rod are pedestals for seamless balls of snow along the ridge 282 · The Missouri Review I follow, my shadow thrown on the far hillside, slides over the steep slope, steals from trunk to trunk, pennant material, but heading for someone else's house, sick of extremes and not sure what to practice, one week below zero, the next feeling warm as a summer evening, though it's hardly above forty, and after a northerly's wide swing snow is swept into a shining distance. Walter Bargen The Missouri Review · 183 WALKING ON AIR / Walter Bargen Blocks away and three o'clock in the morning, the streets barricaded, and the high-rise hotel burdened by too many stories of satin, chauffeurs, and floodlights, and the entropy of burlap, butts, and turned tricks, both beginning and end carefully dynamited, and for a moment, after the detonation, windows trembled with a falling excitement, and walls of concrete and brick stood on dust. What brought us to watch precisely when the brown cloud swelled hundreds of feet into the air and rushed through the streets, dirt swallowing the windowed canyons between buildings, and the jaundiced streetlights hardly reaching us? I think we had tried all evening, our hands kneading soft the masonry of each other's bodies, but the walls were not ravaged so exactingly, and still the room stood oddly open, as doubt built its own thick-walled house, and we contrived to watch the blur settle, leaving a film on sill and glass that from the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 180-188
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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