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FEARSOME / Gillian Conoley A smaU hand turns pages under the kerosene. The woman on the back porch is teUing the story that is afraid to go on, and the wind thinks she's got a hundred mouths. The sky is pearly, Uke the east a few minutes before sunrise. A blackmaüer knocks on the door innocent as a vitamin salesman, or a man in love who would do anything despite growing problems of stress. And there is a woman who wants to drive through the boys standing on the streetcorner waiting for something to happen, clear and fuU Uke a slow voice of the simple pastures. Down the road fearsome and lonesome bleach kiUs mildew, the barn is dark and far. Wheel in hand the woman turns, The Missouri Review · 272 calamity sustaining the sweat on her face. And imagining her smoky possessions chUdren reach to steal sips from a glass of lemonade. Anytime anyone teUs you anything, so much Ufe gets left out. In another life, in another Ufe, a horse runs away without shoes, and then it's someone else's daughter who has sold you a sick chicken. Soon the sky wiU be pearly, Uke the east a few minutes before sunrise. The floors wiU be wet and clean. A blackmailer wiU step out to light a cigarette whiter than the moon, with no one around—just the wind's solemn, hidden force. And what has never happened wUl exist, scarlet and transparent as a dream. And from across the street the barber wül warn who knows what we will do by noon, down broken tracks, considering our dangerous excursions to the very source of time. The earth inherits, the wolves die, the snows 272 · The Missouri Review Gillian Conoley melt, and all the details add up Uke the Uttle red schoolhouse of your mouth, or the woman in question in the blowing hay, or the blackmaUer sitting down to write a letter he'U send Uke chainmaU over the fruited plain: Dear Loneliness, I am afraid I usually don't can this be where to begin, foUowing the story's intricate lost measure, verbatim's pale black haloes. Gillian Conoley The Missouri Review · 273 HIDDEN DRIVE / Gillian Conoley A woman wronged tosses her mule-backed shoe. Angels of bitterness sit on the woman's shoulder, arranging her hair with spUntered wood's eternaUy keen edges. The woman body and car drive through fake Moorish arches. The breeze is bedded in yeUow portulaca, the breeze dies over the tiny banquet of a spider. Such beautiful terraces, a girl is blowing suds out a window. A boy is setting fire to his mother's black sleep mask, whUe imperceptibly an organ plays. And the woman thinks I bet passion has bUnded everyone, black Uke lacquer, and always actively functioning. And soon the boy can't see the woman, growing more and more discolored, and the girl thinks how real are you? How real were you? Who is the self? What is the other? The woman fiUs up at the station. In her handbag, silver coins, anemones, white condoms. A UIy and a rat. The woman is surprised how easily she can circle a long house, imagining the boy and girl inside and hotly flirting. The match the woman lights singes her spUntered lashes, silence bending her forehead to the ground. 274 · The Missouri Review The girl and boy exchange glances that say it won't be long now, and they usher the woman away to her own private room. A red comforter, a hot bath. RecUning Uke accents over nothingness and dust, the boy and girl begin to vanish, kissing the woman as sleep takes over. Sleep that is sorry, sleep that thought you could swim. No, tell me. Tell me. Gillian Conoley The Missouri Review · 275 WE DON'T HAVE TO SHARE A FATE /Gillian Conoley We don't have to share a fate, we don't have to draw shameful conclusions. After the shutter releases, I want you in the plural, in the snake carriage, in the glacier room, in the closet fuU of guitars and stomped hay, in the exhalation of others, all...


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