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HOLIDAYS / Dará Wier How may times our hands will enter water to brighten our faces, wash our glasses, clean our plates to rush through the turkey's carcass, clean it of fat and blood, whatever offends. We have gathered to tell about the worlds we've left to gather and tell of ourselves. My grandmother has recently lost her husband. This is the first time I remember her quiet, letting herself be helped. This is her daughter's house. The last time she visited was ten years ago for my wedding. It is odd to see my grandmother's hands out of water. My sister spells out the duties of her latest part-time job, a gopher for circuit court judges. It is better than hamburgers, better than the graveyard shift. It's easy to fill an urn with water for coffee, take down messages from callers. My brother tells of gallons of water he drank in Arizona, fossil water which was hidden in the earth for centuries and tapped for a growing population in need of a clean source of water for table flowers and bright green squares of soft lawn. My other brother puts on the table a rock the size of our dead grandfather's 12 · The Missouri Review fist, covered with lumps, having the look of a brain. He's brought it with him from Australia, down under. He's chiseled it from its place, checked it through customs and flown with it, eleven thousand miles. It is two point eight billion years old. When I heft it I think what I'm holding should send me through the seat of my chair, through my mother's terrazo floor, through Louisiana's hard, wet dirt, through the earth's center and out into space. But I go on sitting at the table. There is the smell of boiled potatoes. My father is filling my glass with water, my mother's head is waiting for Grace. We mention friends who will marry during the holiday season. We avoid the names of the recently dead. We ask that no one give us details of painful and critical operations. Our hands encircle our glasses of water. No one wants to move the two point eight billion year old rock. It is something to look at when we won't look at one another. Dara Wier The Missouri Review · 13 FEAR / Dara Wier In fall when we went the roads for the pure reason of pretending we were still and the world fell away all around us, the crisp fall kept my tongue circling my lips. Think how many paths circles cross. What range the tongue bringing moisture to chapped skin laps. I watched my grandfather rub petroleum jelly on his hearing aid ear. Each of his possessions, package of black tobacco, jar of mentholatum, and, collapsed around a gold coin he never let me touch, a leather pouch soft as damp moss, greygreen, a lesson. He leaned and touched his hearing aid battery to my mouth to burn my lips, a silver spot of circular burn that comes back, do you regret knowing he took your hands around his testicles when it is easy to believe those nights taught you how one thing becomes another. His back had been a thing burnt black when he was brought home from the clinic to recover from anthrax. I would not touch a thing he touched. I watched the black crescents his fingernails drew as he drew melon seeds from cotton sacks or wrapped raffia around the wounds his knife drew for citrus grafts. When he squeezed icthyol sauve 14 ¦ The Missouri Review on my instep to draw the thick thorn back, it healed. The cusp of the deer's hoof is static in our headlights. There, a blow you've taken, movement in shadow near the road; you've shied, recovered, and watch for other dangers. There is the rabbit whose carelessness could kill us but she freezes in our headlights for the next car coming or the random truck whose driver has no thought for her or us. Think how many times it's crossed your mind, will they kill...


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