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6 THE MISSOURI REVIEW SOMETHING HAS FALLEN / Philip Levine Something has fallen wordlessly and holds still on the black driveway. You find it, like a jewel, among the empty bottles and cans where the dogs toppled the garbage. You pick it up, not sure if it is stone or wood of some new plastic made to replace them both. When you raise your sunglasses to see exactly what you have you see it is only a shadow that has darkened your fingers, a black ink or oil, and your hand suddenly smells of classrooms when the rain pounded the windows and you shuddered thinking of the cold and the walk back to an empty house. You smell all of your childhood, the damp bed you struggled from to dress in half-light and go out into a world that never tired. Later, your hand thickened and flat, slid out of a rubber glove, as you stood, your mask raised, Philip Levine 7 to light a cigarette and rest while the acid tanks that were yours to clean went on bathing the arteries of broken sinks. Remember, you were afraid of the great hissing jugs. There were stories of burnings, of flesh shredded to lace. On other nights men spoke of rats as big as dogs. Women spoke of men who trapped them in corners. Always there was grease that hid the faces of worn faucets, grease that had to be eaten one finger-print at a time, there was oil, paint, blood, your own blood sliding across your nose and running over your lips with that bright, certain taste that was neither earth or air, and there was air, the darkest element of all, falling all night into the bruised river you slept beside, falling 8 THE MISSOURI REVIEW into the glass of water you filled two times for breakfast and the eyes you turned upward to see what time it was. Air that stained everything with its millions of small deaths, that turned all five fingers to grease or black ink or ashes. Philip Levine 9 THE CHOICE / Philip Levine I have come back to a life that holds me in its hours the way dust is held in the cup of the iris, and I will be here until my own hours pass into the uncounted time of stars. Once, broken and hurt, I said life was for someone else, and I turned to darkened windows and rooms without doors. I turned away from everything that could hurt or bless me, and I became one frozen blind star among the lost hosts of stars circling a man's life. A voice called to me, perhaps it was no voice at all but only the steady pull of the moon or the air that rushed from my lungs each time I tried to say a name. I listened. It seemed a voice I knew, one from childhood, a boy's voice, a boy who shared my long hours dreaming under the rain, my fears of a world where men grew angry and the streets darkened early, where to be caught alone and far from home was all wrong. The boy said my name, both syllables, as no one said it since the name was new to me, and I knew the time had come. I packed the eleven books of love my brother stole for me, my belt, the stones I wrote with, the shirt cut from the red and black flag of all my hopes. Then I set out 10 THE MISSOURI REVIEW to find the sentence that would tell me why I'm here and nowhere else. Why no matter how many names I use to name myself, how many stars misguide me across the years, no matter how many lives I choose not to live, this is the one that counts. Philip Levine 11 YOUR LIFE / Philip Levine I did not know your life was mine. I had seen you walking sadly by, your head down, your hands still and hidden, and I thought, I could go to you and ask what the years had done that couldn't be forgotten. Instead I turned inward. I...


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