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THE LOST / Keith Althaus The wind blows across the lake and through the trees and shakes the hardwood branches where each leaf hangs forlorn as a lost glove on a bulletin board, awaiting gravity's cold call, to jump, back to earth, to mere existence. after living in the air; and all around the pines stand soldier green. The chains lie across the road, the trails are open, but hardly anyone comes in the park. The only visitors this time of year, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, lonely souls who sit in their cars in the empty lot as big as the lake, or drive around like they were looking for a parking space, or a vacant table through the trees; the same ones you see on country roads, going slow as tractors, as if they were lost, which they are, though they probably know the route by heart. I know where they are lost. How in an empty room the bowed head locks and the eyes see through the hands' bone posts and fence of veins, and through the knees and legs and floor, to a hidden spring that is the source of tears; 24 ¦ The Missouri Review and why they walk these paths around dry fountains, the closed concession stand and leaf filled barbecues, always staring down, like children who don't know the answer, eyes averted from the certain chevrons in the sky, drawn to the water's minutiae, hypnotized by their survival play, the salamander lifting the manhole cover of a stone, the lives below the acid roofs of leaves. From the bridge above the dam they see on one side the reluctance of everything to go, even dead things, and on the other how they do; the snake bent double like a belt hangs on a root, a branch with the bark floated off, smooth and hairless as a wrist, clings with one finger of a twig. They come to bathe their eyes like icy pebbles on the bottom, drown the loop of questions in roaring falls, and, with no place left to go, retrace the only footsteps on the beach, stopping like an afterthought to try to skip a stone across the choppy surface, then back again, against the traffic, to the city, home, the office they called earlier to say I can't come in today, with whatever decision they reached or postponed. Keith Althaus The Missouri Review · 25 FIRST MEMORY / Keith Althaus The taillights disappearing into the black wood of the hill mark the end of my reach, the limit of my knowledge, before that there is nothing. Sometimes I am"awakened by the slamming of brakes, or the jerky shifting of gears going uphill; the clattering of an empty trolley through a deserted, unHt intersection. Sometimes I am suddenly filled with enormous sadness for no reason, as a car turns off up ahead or a city bus slows to make a turn farther and farther behind me. 26 · The Missouri Review ...


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