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INFANT BONDS OF JOY / Roger Weingarten Success and pandemonium alternated with and without primadonnas and castrati. H.H. Stuckenschmidt In the chrome mouth of the Edsel I straightened my bow tie as my uncle pulled a long, clay-green cigar from a metal tube. He spat the tip at a ginko. He quoted Flaubert, who, after he was cured of syphillis in the French mud and marked for life with black saliva, said, "I am like a cigar: you have to suck on the end to get me going." My father, embarrassed, brought a match to my uncle's cleft chin as my brother and I walked inside the lazy afternoon at my grandparents that began its slow descent peeling galoshes and scarves, feeling the brittle bones of my grandfather's fingers pushing us toward the red-winged crashing against the wicker cage. "What's the white stuff in bird doo?" he whispered. "Tell me and I'll fly you to Miami Beach." My mother lifting the foU from a black cake wadded it into a ball and threw it hard at my father, knocking his hat into a bowl of chopped liver and schmaltz across the room where my brother was crawling under the table with a cousin to spy 206 · The Missouri Review on grandmother's tears sliding into her moustache and dripping into the great cleavage as she grated horseradish into the bowl of beet juice. "What an awful thing life is," said that same Frenchman, who lived at home with his mother, "like soup with a hair floating on top you have to eat it nevertheless." Two years like back-to-back slow dances at a bar mitzvah, then the children were told to stay in the car, the engine running to keep us warm, grey snow building a wall over the windshield. I drew stick figures across the tinted glass, while my uncle's soul, ready to leap, stared from his coffin at the six-pointed star. When my grandfather died in my uncle's arms the year before, his last words were indistinguishable from the cry of his red bird through the swinging door of the kitchen where my brother and I in a fever were tasting whiskey from everyone's glass. From that childhood to running naked through a blizzard: an attempted teenage suicide that left me feeling better than skipping the perfect stone of self-hate out of my body, hovering awhile on the surface and whistling "Flat Foot Floojie with a Floy Floy." A convoy of Roger Midwest tractor trailers will run over and over the unleavened bones of my being in limbo between remembered joy and the fumes and sulphur haze of adulthood. Flattened into a roadside marker, I wUl point the way. Roger Weingarten The Missouri Review · 207 My plaque will say Roger Weingarten never really lived, but when he does appear in the dashboard glow of your imagination, traveler, strike your match against his epitaph and cup your hands to the fire so you can hold his spirit, yeUow and dancing around a black stick, then be on your way. 208 · The Missouri Review Roger Weingarten ...


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