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FROM THE ILLINOIS SHORE / Michael Sheridan On a beach too small to have a name I stand and watch the sunlight cast my shadow on the Mississippi. The shadow drifts over sunken stones as if trying to get away. Across the river, in mist, Fort Madison looks faded, amorphous, like a woman who dresses to be ignored. When white settlers arrived there in 1834 after Chief Black Hawk lost The Battle of Big Axe— they felled trees, trimmed and notched them, dragged them into squares. They became resigned to long silences. A century later my father came to work the Santa Fe. We've both known the greed that keeps this country going, the wives who weep and cannot tell you why. We've stood before bosses, heads bowed, while great engines whined and thumped in a landscape boring as someone else's dream. From the Illinois shore the world's a mouth, a sad, raw, gaping thing. Me? I'm only less than ordinary: I dance when no one's looking. I'll dance until the last light gleams on the river and on the roofs of houses across the river, until the sky's so red it wants to scream. The Missouri Review · 33 ...


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