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THE TOM McAFEE discovery feature Carol Potter Carol Potter is our second Tom McAfee Discovery Feature Poet, a continuing series which features the work of an outstanding young poet who has not yet published a book. Carol has recently received a Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts grant, and has poems forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Massachusetts Review, and New Letters. She is currently teaching part time at Holyoke Community College. The Tom McAfee Discovery Feature is funded by the family and friends of Tom McAfee. THE CHILDREN WHO HAVEN'T STOPPED MOVING / Carol Potter We rode the train through the north woods, five children nodding at the familiar names: North Creek, Speculator. Somebody behind us kept whispering: "Paradise." There was an old woman in his arms. He shifted his feet on the bare wood floor, held her waist as if she were a baby with wings threatening to fill the train with her gaggle. The old man leaned over the seat: "She drinks too much." We didn't say anything. "Who the hell told you kids it would be any different?" We pretended to be asleep. I lay back, dreamed of white moths scraping their wings against the windows. We were the lights about to go out. I saw the dust from their backs fill the glass; I always thought it was the dust that made them fly. I woke in a car of frostglazed windows. We began scratching our names in the rime. Behind us, he kept whispering: "If you don't like it, just get up and move." There were no other seats. We could see the woods animals up in the tops of trees, waving at us, like grandmothers, their white handkerchiefs flagging the breeze. The Missouri Review · 99 RELEASING THE HERD / Carol Potter Pressed like moths against the barn windows, we watched water rise around us. Twenty hours of rain, lights from the barn splayed like a broad hand across our new river towards home, where a woman sat at the white window playing piano. "Our mother of the river-boat," we said. We were stuck, and there was nothing we could do but tend the herd, and talk. Our cows in their stone berths bellowed, black and white, brindle, guernsey . . . breath billowed the barn. We fed out hay, warmed our hands on the cows' udders, drank milk straight from the pails. For some time, all we could hear was rain falling on the roof, 200 cleft hooves shifting, 50 blonde tongues buried deep in last summer's second cutting. Outside, we could see the river rising . . . Our world now seamless ... no hills, no rocks, no trees. The river was surveying our land, measuring the perimeters of house and barn. Once we saw the house go down river, our mother of the river-boat at her piano, waving. Once we saw the John Deere tractor float by the barn, its 6 foot rubber wheels revolving on themselves, our father at the helm doing what he could to conduct that tide. Once our barn shifted on its moorings. We fell silent. We knew it was time to release the herd, kiss each one on the brow. Two by two our cows migrated from the barn, tails arched over their backs. Hoping there might be some dry bridge between where we were, and where we needed to be, we walked from the barn that night into neck-deep water. The dappled river scrubbed our faces. Everything depended on the way the barn lights draped themselves across the water, how each of us 100 · The Missouri Review rode those broad yellow hands down river. We did what we could. It was a baptism. It was a drowning. It was the only way home. Carol Potter The Missouri Review · 101 THAT NOT SO CERTAIN FEELING / Carol Potter There was no difference between the outside and the inside. They asked her how it felt. She said it felt like nothing. She couldn't explain. On one street, she found a silent band standing, marchers in mid-motion, their conductor gone off on his horse, his baton rising and falling. People were lined up alongside the street, amazed at how whole segments...


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