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STILLWATER IMandy Richmond Oowd Intro: my aUy: wasn't any drug could make me recaU not any could make me forget this life backing me out death's door but—how can I tell you?—keeping me here eg. a psychiatrist asked what are your three greatest problems? I lost my shoes. What else? I lost both of them. How did you get those scars on your legs? Losing my shoes. 1. Cicadas cut through the muffle like a saw through sand pUing in on itself I was saiUng on the river, only saiUng a squaU came on the horizon I don't remember the horizon. I meet it here each moment horizontal to the next : at the foot of the bed my father looked to my mother who looked to my father who looked to the floor Ught pressed against a filmy window silence passed a ball rolled under a parked car 36 - The Missouri Review But how, but why? There is no sound for it my voice stuffed in the oxygen tent There is only my breath, my body creating space to let the air come through. This much I knew These hands bound mute these hands round the tiller sUpping a slow fat-cat boat into the storm the river was stUl and I was glass these hands bound and stuffed the canvas sail in its bag hands coiled the mainsheet the rope round itself thirteen times I counted and once to bind the knot fourteen years, these hands bound the noose slung from the landing I slipped into swung from the stairs these hands hung amnesia: the miracle of a single clean moment a vessel socked in the fog involute horn brayed from her bow She would blow in like wind from the north—I would undress like a beach in the south Mandy Richmond Dowd The Missouri Review · 37 Again and again naked to the tempest, tasting Brinking one moment to the next Wave under wave under her 4. My numbed out fingers clung in the oxygen mist as if it wasn't day there was no heat in me blood burst in the white of my eye again I tried to dock the boat I sat on my mattress, wobbled in a heaving storm darkness rocked me on her inland sea Nothing ... in the realm of necessity Except what my hands could do* I held the tiUer coiled the sheets tossed the bowUne off her prow my father from the doorway watched me navigate and fall back, I threw up in my lungs 5. it was something undone, unsaid 6. The saUboats move on the water when I am alone in the room 7. I've lost count of the years I've been ill, I can remember, 38 · The Missouri Review Mandy Richmond Dowd though, the stupor of my health, the healthy years 8. If you had to die would you rather freeze to death or burn? we used to ask It was a casual question Oh burn my sister said It would be much quicker I would rather freeze having been that way before I slept in a tent up behind the house without a sleeping bag to see how much cold I could stand amnesia this moment a perfect integer 10. The mist a vapor between us, and I for the first time saw the mirror on the concrete wall, morning stiU as nurses can hold it stiU as stopped breath but I pushed out of the oxygen tent, shuffled to the sight of myself My hands held my hands, held all I knew looking through the chUd I was, only pieces remained afloat in the stillwater of an eye, parted in the flood of an other They puUed me back Mandy Richmond Dowd The Missouri Review · 39 alone to the clean air tucked away with an image memory now spUt wide the horizon, the bed against my body breaking down the infinite, only the mist a vapor At last they gathered round no evidence in my veins no story only that we'd aU held Ufe in our hands They'd severed an artery, spiUed its blood, fiUed it again...


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