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REVISIONARY INSTRUMENTS / Kathy Fagan for Jackie A bird I can't see outside my window is chipping away at his morning routine and mine. And there are birds with lesser voices than his insisting on some distance, as in a chUd's drawing of telephone poles in which perspective is the lesson learned and wondered at. And although it is late August, the birch next door already drops its Uttle golden epaulets into our neighbor's garden. They have lost a chUd—a three-month foetus, absorbed into the woman's body Uke vermin under housewaUs when the Ughts go on. I am tired of the deaths of the body: of the cancer that eats my friend thin, of the trout-arcing randomness and sUence of it, its terrible unstillness. SaUie sits beside me as we wait for you and studies the painting of the hot-air baUoon. From brown hüls cradling blue water it rises, toward a cropped, enormous yeUow sun. I have seen it for days, this bad painting. It is remarkable only for its size, the tenacity of its brightness, and the signatures of those patients to whom it is dedicated. I had thought Td committed each one of them to heart. But today I notice, suspended in middle air between the sea's horizon and basket's base, identical surnames in chUdish hands. One boy, one girl, their Latin name written as high as their arms could reach. 158 · The Missouri Review TU remember it, later, as Esperanza. TU think it impossible even as I do. WMt revisionary instruments our hearts are, I'll write; how merciful our misremembrance, since, if truth were known, a famUy of headstones was what I thought of then, floating in that patch of sky, and not of hope, not of hope at aU. The beagle out back barks with a hound's voice, barks with a seal's voice, that hoarse and fish-hungry. Her owners let rooms in a shingled house, leave rarely, are never idle. Even their boys, jostling each other on the seat of a mower, manage, anyhow, to look purposeful. They travel the lengths of the sidewalks and aUeys they've been ordered to stay on, and do; shouting above the engine sounds, scattering squirrels to the borders. How cleanly Paradise contains them this way. How weU they guard it on their noisy rounds. And when squirrels wheel up the charred trunks of the birch on their circus feet, in their Fred Astaire shoes, to where are they riding? What do they see? There are rows of slate rooftops beyond this roof; there are staves of black cables coUapsing to one; and the grids made by lawn and the grids made by street ease out toward the fields leaning back into meadow: grasses and goldenrod wind-pressed and groomed, parted and smoothed Uke the hair on a chUd. Beyond, the woods barely hold in the river, being tugged by the river as it comes and goes by. Kathy Fagan The Missouri Review · 159 On its jagged teeth, past its rusted keys, it's a long roll of music, running down. Two chUdren lean over a puzzle of wUdflowers and work their way in from the edges. Already the foreground's made whole enough to see some shavings of noon sun glint above the asters, as it does in the girl's amazing hair, which is soft and sparrow-colored dosest to her skuU, flecked goldly and roped where the summer's found it. For awhUe, uncowed by the waiting room calm, they passed the box-top model between them; they fingered the unattached pieces Uke pros; but now the boy is sunk in his seat, the smaU girl climbs their mother's lap, and I wonder which one of her chUdren is sick. In his portrait of Hart Crane, David Alfaro Siqueiros painted the poefs eyes closed: too much pain in them, he said. Of whose pain, reaUy, do the shut eyes speak? And what is one to do, then, with this mother's pain: her own eyes cast across the room, fixed on nothing, and fiUed with . . . what? What does it look Uke, after...


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