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BELLS / Robert Hedin —For M. L., killed in Viet Nam I remember it was 1965, the summer I was put in charge of the bells. Above me and high up, they waited like thunderheads at the top of the First Presbyterian Church. And so each Sunday I would pull, and down out of that dark ringing would fall, like flecks of glittering mica, dead moths, flies, and the small luminous bones of bats. But most of all it was dust. And all summer with the sun high in its arc, and the heat building slowly, by degrees, I rose, lifted by that long bellrope, and, swinging there, would pull the dust down, like light, over the bowed and sleeping bibles. The Missouri Review · 287 WINTER SOLSTICE IN LOURDES / Robert Hedin They never imagined it would be like this— The gurneys suddenly slipping away, The braces all unclasping like hands— And then the wading out, arm-in-arm, Into the waters, the ghostly flowering Of the nightclothes. And for a moment You can see them, out in the long columns Of light, turning like white pinwheels In the rain, the night so cold there's just Their breath starting on its long climb Into the sky. And scattered there In the smoke, the crutches shining Like wingbones, the empty fleets Of wheelchairs aU overturned, Their wheels grinding on their starlit hubs. 288 · The Missouri Review ...


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