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SATURDAY ON THE ITCHETUCKNEE / Richard Chess This is where nature ends and human nature, the crawl in tubes through clear American water, begins, where some Doug signals his toy Coast Guard boat toward his wife—she's smoking a terribly long cigarette—and the oldest woman on a raft, snagged by a broken branch, is freed finally by her grey son to drift, and four teenage girls, four geese, preen for a flotilla of boys ahead. My chubby friend, masked, sinks to drag the riverbed like a slow crayfish for souvenirs and comes up, naturally, empty handed. The Amazonian boys have banked their tubes and shimmied up a leaning trunk to leap into the crowd. With narrow, muddy eyes, Doug promises to spank his wife for soaking the rest of the pack. This is where I rudder my tube to the right of a tuft of weeds and debris that divides the water, where alone I slide past my one egret of the day, silent still, wings tucked, a pure guest on a IUy pad. Shameless, I tube to the public river's end, a gate beyond which tourists do not go. 286 · The Missouri Review ...


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