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LOST LAKE / Mary Swander We do not leave our bodies behind. In each new field we bury our flesh and carry our bones with us. Slipped into a pocket, we are fists without fingers, a single tooth, scarred cheek, a sunken chin. We are hands opening, webbed thumbs. In each new field our hair drops from our skin, drifts into the grass, floats away with our tongues. We have eaten common nightshade and jimson, lips swelling shut. We have lived underground like tubers, wed into the same family, shoots rising from our one good eye. We move on, sometimes we stop. We say, the land is fine here, then our fists become clay pots filling with the bones of our own fingers. We move on, stand inside an old barn, the boards, ribs caving in. 42 · The Missouri Review Our bodies float inside a hull. float across water, sink to the bottom of a lake where we enter each other's house, peel off our clothes and lie down on more solid ground. Alone all winter, we only get better. But if we are touched when wet, a fungus will spread through the night and the stars will swim into the moon. And if we are pulled up, carted off in the dark, we will leave holes that will not fill forever. Dogs roam our dreams. We herd inside an old barn, but ribs crack, and through the sockets of a ram's skull, we look out on the lake, the water, a mirror, and see masks of our own faces— joints knit with plaster, fontanels that never close. And from our own skulls we drink water until the lake is gone, a crater filled with sand, and we crinoids, our spines, stems bent over. Mary Swander The Missouri Review · 43 Then in each new bed, we lie down. Grass covers stone. We slip our hands inside a body and we are buried in grain. In each new field a harvest begins. One day we stop, I say the land is poor here, but I will raise sheep on the hills. Down to bare skin I will clip fleece from belly to sternum. The wool will fall in one clean piece. I will wrap myself in yarn and let the rain roll off my shoulders. The rain rolls down the hills where the sheep glean the fields. They carry away the seeds. They come back for the leaves and stems. They rout underground for the plants' few last threads until the ground is gone and their hooves sink through the mud. Their bodies disappear and the rain rolls down the hills. The rain drips through the rafters, 44 · The Missouri Review Mary Swander through the fibers of a ewe and settles under her skin where hooves tangle, legs, heads, bend toward swollen blue tongues. Then after the double birthing we work all night to stuff the lining of the ewe back into its own wall. With needle and thread we stitch the lips together and do not say a word. We move on through our own skin, the veins of our hearts reversed, the chambers too small to pump to our hands. We are a basin filling with clay. We carry our bones slipped into the pocket of our chest wall, the vessels, holes, fists without fingers, one hollow muscle, one hollow muscle. No door can shut us out. No bolt can turn us back. Through the hinge like the wind you blow. Through the tongue Mary Swander The Missouri Review ¦ 45 of the ewe drinking its own milk, you blow. Through the hay, the rough boards, out over the fields of fox glove and lupine, into the mouth of hemlock and hellebore, you blow. No door can shut you out. When the berries of the carrion plant swing back and forth on their weak stems, through their flesh like the wind you blow. You carry me into the claws of the owl, its wings, filaments. A branch sweeps the lake. We light up the whole night and moths flutter around our center. We are a lamp on water. The fog pulls us along like thread, pulls us across cliffs...


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