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SIRIUS RISING / Brian Taylor for Linda Horsley She is the mind which thinks us, tve are the thoughts that she thinL· Clarissa Pinkola Estés It's said Pythagoras, certain no soul is merely snuffed, led his hound to his friend's deathbed that the dog might catch and inhale the dying breath: better the freed soul inhabit so noble a creature than some less domestic beast. Since I met you, women glimpsed coasting the dairy counter, opening the door of the bakery, sitting in conversation at the tables across the street have lost all their loveliness, and I have paid more attention to dogs. Ugly dogs at that, mutts that scavenge the alleys of Pompeii, the color of the earth, greyish, yellowish. Scruffy cousins to the Egyptian dogs and hence to jackal-faced Anubis, they snap at the hooves of oxen hauling debris down the rutted Strada dell'Abbondanza where you stride along the raised sidewalk turning into the Strada dei Teatri on your way to the Tempio d'Isigi. With these Italian names history ends, and I am entering with you a place made by mythographers and those who dream. These are days of canicola, the stagnant air of midsummer simmering, dog days inviting perpetual siesta. I too have stretched in a patch of umber shade, tongue lolling, twitching at flies. The bones Tm too lazy to bury. The windowless walls are red and ocher, door frames crayoned blue. The sky is blank. Vesuvio trembles. Or is that thunder? When I dream, I do not dream as dogs 40 · The Missouri Review dream. I have planned the mise-en-scène for years. You stand silhouetted in the doorway of the purple-shadowed Temple of Isis, crowned with a feathery yellow auriole of blossom from the lithe linden tree for which you are named. Against the sunlight the cotton of your dress flames like begonia petals. What is this wreckage of a man on the stone table? Brother, husband, son of the Great Goddess, he who exited, stage left, into the jaws of the Great Black Dog who swallows all that shines. Now we have entered the gurgling belly of the otherworld. Here, I am the midnight scavenger of alley trash. Behind those screened windows, half-empty beds sweat. So I lick the brown stain from the city sky, and there is Orion stalking the red-eyed Bull. There at his heels flows the milky River of Souls. And here comes the new moon in blackface, masked Harlequin, king of shreds and patches, like Herakles, founder of Pompeii, wielding his club. Now, clouds heap over the rooftops, and the heavens are canceled. In the Casa del Poeta Tragico it is written: Beware of the Dog. But Sirius has risen. Those who eat at the stone table smile in the shuddering gloom, the blood upon their fingers turning to powdered gold, for you (so I would have it) are delicately piecing the thirteen glittering fragments of the broken god. Panting Anubis grins at your side. The thunder breaks. The city fills with ash. Brian Taylor The Missouri Review · 41 HEAT LIGHTNING / Brian Taylor I take a snapshot while you are laughing and remorse grabs my wrist; I have kept some thing you did not intend to give: the curve of your breasts shaped by your raised arms, your lips parted. I have pureed red peppers boiled in coconut milk and green curry paste; I have dismantled the plumbing under the backed-up kitchen sink and have done what had to be done with a furious mop. The night is now compliant. I am peeling shrimp under a pink and gray El Greco sky that is muttering thunder. As I steer south from the badlands north of Monument Valley, the thunderheads roll in to meet me. In the slot between the darkness of the sky and the darkness of the plain the distant mesas catch fire. The primate in me, tingling with the charged sky, yells to tear limbs from treetops and to pound the jungle floor in a frenzied dance. Such was the first drama: the dog days of late summer, the clouds heaped and heavy, a hundred hands...


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