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poem by Mary Oliver and sharing it with her teacher. I even persuaded my unlettered father to read a book about Belle Starr (by some guy named Speer Morgan). As parents and teachers, we need to restore to our young the lost domain of literature. Maybe it isn't the ultimate "desert island" book we should be seeking, but those flukes that flit into our lives at unexpected moments, changing us forever. I think how dull my life would have been without the likes of Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen and Kenneth Rexroth, Vance Randolph, Lafcadio Hearn, R. H. Blyth, Charles Fort—a motley assortment perhaps, and one you'll never learn about in school. But I discovered them as surely as Columbus discovered America. And what about those touchstones, like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Golden Key, Jürgen, Flatland, de Angulo's Indian Tales, Stapledon's Star Maker, Werfel's Star of the Unborn—works to stir our deepest sense of mystery and awe? I understand Ronald Reagan has declared 1987 "the Year of the Reader." Tm not sure how auspicious this is, coming as it does from the Great Communicator, the man who said: "Now here again, in saying this, I know that language, as I said earlier, can get in the way of a clear understanding of what our program is intended to do." Shades of 2984? In this era of media hype and political "disinformation ," only the trained reader will be able to distinguish the various uses and abuses of language. Indeed, if men like Ronald Reagan were more inclined to read books—at least the right ones—our country might not be in the shape it's in. One thinks of the poet-statesmen of ancient China and wonders where we went wrong. At any rate, I thank you and your staff at Missouri Revino for continuing to provide us with worthwhile reading matter. COMPOSITE / Judith Berke You remember Aunt Ray was always so shy, like a folded-up letter, and here she is almost gone, one hand out as if begging for absolution, a sin so small there's no name for it. 290 · The Missouri Review We cousins keep putting our ears to her mouth trying to catch anything, a whisper, a brushstroke, I guess, for that composite portrait we've been trying to keep of this family; of all of us. I think Aunt Ray would be the hands: how she sat at the table, the tips of her fingers meeting in a kind of arch under her chin, a sort of doorway to catch the words in, as though our words were important. How especially quiet she was then, as if the keeper of words shouldn't make them. She might have been one of those Roman women two thousand years ago who wove, or sewed; or made clay urns: the grooves so deep and clear a scientist could break off a piece and play it like a record . . . and there would be that moment: their looms, the beads they were wearing. The stories the elders told of the ancestors. Everything in that small room echoing like a canyon. Judith Berke THE MISSOURI Review · 292 I f^- ...


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