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BIRTHDAY POEM / Madeline DeFrees When the Hellgate wind unwinds down the canyon and I wade in my tallest boots one drift at a time; when that white devil spins back mean in my teeth, the whole jaw aching, I sometimes enter the largest pyramid of all and fail to emerge from the other side. Some days that soft intruder climbs the window ledge I watch, snowbound at home. His face lights a clear moment, goes out in chaff. My pulse slows down, guides the writing hand. I sit with the lights off tracing hard angles on the pane, sheer fall and rise of the brain's oscillograph. Carnations arrive from Wylie Street where danger's kept insured. Blear wash of sun in broken ground. I follow engraved wheels to food, one tread at a time. A Pinto clanking chains recalls the heavy end of a car, nose down in the ditch. Pale weeds by the road mime themselves before going out unwept. By midnight, the engine overhauled, shipshape. Cold settles down beside me when I crawl between the sheets. Flowers in their own dark flash under lids: white pink, white yellow, white-violet-red. All of us drink that lifereplenishing powder. I sleep in my shroud sail like a first-class martyr. The Missouri Review ยท 19 ...


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