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22 THEMISSOURIREVIEW BLACK LEAVES / Michael Waters Once, in a field, in the black shade of an oak, an open coffin filling with leaves. You want to sleep there forever, surrounded by crickets coaxing their sad, imaginary violins. Say it's Sunday, the sky gone white with staring. All morning you've imagined nothing but heat, the slow pressure of perspiration on your wrist. You might start counting sparrows confused in the valley, but the coffin interrupts your romance like a mother. So you circle twice, making sure there's been no mistake. Perhaps this coffin belongs to your neighbor. Perhaps it arrived by mail years ago, was lost in revival, abandoned in the cellar like preserves. But the heat is blossoming, there's too much to think, the red silk rustles like something cool & the leaves, the black leaves, are falling one by one until you can no longer resist, so you slip in & sleep like nothing at all. Michael Waters 23 SALAD / Michael Waters for my grandmother Your stubborn back staring down the sun, breasts swaying in the blouse, you thumbed the peppers and onions past the last lights, the struck stars. Salad again for supper. Each green knot growing from the soil will kiss the heart's blood with years, with family. And you, fingers phasing the moon to thin slices above the treetops, leaving keepsakes for the future— this small, white worm in the radish. ...


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pp. 22-23
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