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THANKSGIVING WEEKEND: THE LAST TOUCH FOOTBALL FOR THE TWENTY-FIFTH SEASON / Robert Lietz Sunday. Small hammers tapping the storm-windows into place. On windy Sundays after Mass, late August through November, in sweats, in paint spattered pants, they drive to the old neighborhood for football, and after football home for smoked meats and ale. Small luck primes them for the kindness they stray on, their own aches that remind them of, two decades earlier, the passes they just missed, the flying tackles they completed, bodies sprawled on thorns where a rose garden lined one drive. If the attitudes remain, the aversions, interests, and if the century, like a running back trying to regain his balance, stumbles forward toward the next, their lives take on the appearance of a truce seen at a distance. They know to expect rust. They know an explanation falsifies events they are a part of. But here, their pasts spread-eagle on forever, the bunkbeds, the nursed appliances like companionable if out of place slipped notes, even their dwarfed words seem miraculous, the spectacle and scale of their going like a calf they fattened up for table. In tall backed chairs at walnut table, their lives, of which they speak, as some men speak of sandblasting with a reverence, they give thanks for, in that 24 · The Missouri Review wash of scents and water lights, where their beauty is at first chilling, like that of a family entering night fog, an unexpected radiance that becomes a habitation, men opening in their company as an orange grove will seem to open, without prescience of frost. Robert Lietz The Missouri Review · 25 WOMEN DRINKING BEER / Robert Lietz after Manet I imagine what words catch in their throats, angle as light angles. They stop twice weekly, drink their beer, not so old they must decline light, so young they need to worry about the barley at their hearts. Still tight-waisted, with assistance, still attractive at their breasts: they set my afternoon to order, in their similar browns and blues, women so nearly sisters in their dark round hats, this one hunched over her hand turned grave, fist almost squeezing the air out, this other drinking, her fingers lit with amber through her tilted glass. They are my excuse, these women, their sisterhood at the edge of its collapse, bored with affairs, with children. Mademoiselle will not drink. She will not look up to light. I hold my place in this foreground beyond their bows and rings, beyond accoutrements turned grave. I see them posed so long I cannot rescue them from color. Somewhere our stories inevitably collide, splinters like hail through yellow light fanned through a strange air. And somewhere a variation commemorates this pair. There is an owl seen in the long mirror over her piano, censor, brother, husband, its pinch no longer painful at her shoulders, its dark eyes gazing over the snows of petticoats, winters of chemisette. 26 · The Missouri Review ...


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