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Gerald Stern 33 THE SACRED SPINE / Gerald Stern It will always be invisible, it will have hair on it, but that will be false, and skin, but that will be stretched over the branches like a sweater dipped in alum. It will hang from the mouth like a piece of paper or a large caterpillar. It will twist over doubly like a ravenous birch. It will lie rigid. It will scream out trying to find a position. It will turn in pain, trying to escape, trying to release itself, trying to live again without fear and exhaustion, trying to float once more, trying to rest, trying to rise, in the fine dust and the feathers, in the wet leaves and the grass and the flowers, on the bleached wood and the pillows and the warm air and the weeds and the water. 34 THEMISSOURIREVIEW THE FACES I LOVE / Gerald Stern Once and for all I will lie down here like a dead man, letting the socialists walk over my face, letting the fascists crawl through my veins, letting the Krishnas poison me with their terrible saffron. Once and for all I will lie here helpless and exhausted. I will let dishonor rise from me like steam and tears fall down on me like oily rain. In the end my stillness will save me; in the end the leopard will walk away from me in boredom and trot after something living, something violent and warm to excite him before his death. In the end I will have my own chair. I will pull the blinds down and watch my nose and mouth in the blistered glass. I will look back in amazement at what I did and cry aloud for two more years, for four more years, just to remember the faces, just to recall the names, to put them back together, the names I can't forget, the faces I love. ...


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