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IN THE DARKNESS OF THE BODY !Stephen Tapscott In the darkness of the body you come to a field of white and yellow manzanilla flowers spread across a hillside soft in its lines as chalk. You wade through the huge color. As if they were picked and floated over water, they ride easily their strong stalks, cloud-heavy, heavy with camomile. Sometimes they swim in waves, giving way to a wind as if a vast slow hand brushed across them. It is then their pollen shakes loose and silts across theblond petals and stains the ground and stains the hand a deep specific yellow. You may catch a few grains, fine and geometric as a salt, and dark, and deeply plushed. How lightly they sit across your fingertips! They carry the smell of the field steeping in the wide light. Can you taste them? taste that one: the gold flake on your thumbnail. You bend to it, crooning your tongue. You hold your breath a little, out of fear you will lose it, 12 ¦ The Missouri Review it is so exact, it is so exact! a little bitterness resolves across the tongue. So the body is invented, its bright particularity, grain by grain. You taste the field and the taste of yourself adjusts itself a little. Stephen Tapscott The Missouri Review · 23 IRISES / Stephen Tapscott This time we have lived long enough in one place to grow a summer flower: the irises have come, exactly blue, beside the porch. Lifted, wobbling slightly, they stand in clusters on their strong stalks, the pollinated space they hold inside themselves a season of round, single days: or a solution to some future question, they are so full of iris. They remind me of nothing so much as the day we planted them: pure and blue and cold and we were eager, disturbing the earth: I sprinkled bonemeal and you set the wrinkled tubers into place and folded the soil back over them, intent, with liquid hands, bending your honest body over that gift to the ground like the shadow of certain ancient saints, said to heal the sick. 24 ¦ The Missouri Review BECAUSE SHE IS PREGNANT AND FULL OF HER CALIFORNIA / Stephen Tapscott girlhood, thirty years' longing and forgiveness, these weeks Rebecca has filled the house with poppies. They are so pure, California-gold-fleshed and their lines unblurred, I would like to hold her for a moment, for what she brings to them: though she is my friend's wife, and we are shy. She has set them in a jelly-jar in the thin kitchen light, where they pull toward the window and remember to turn open, turn closed, according to their first rhythm. This morning she warms her fingers around the teacup; she rubs her narrow shoulders; she is tired; the baby swam and fumbled through her sleep. And I wonder she can watch them so long so intently: as if they were simple poppies, and watching them were also simple, according to a first rhythm we thought we had forgotten and had not. Loss is not the mystery. The body, that remembers and continues: that is the mystery. The Missouri Review ¦ 25 ...


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