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THE HARROWING OF HELL / Suzanne Paola No eyes milked into blindness or twisted limbs to heal. Only the blind, bent, untreatable shades. Blurred, wrung out by death . . . they surrounded him, sexless, identical: When he asked their names no one, not even the chosen, remembered. But he remembered, and gathered them as he'd once gathered apostles, pulling them emptyhanded from the dull shores of a lake. Took their wrists into his staunched hands unprepared for the flesh: cold, rank, loosening, like leaves piled up and left in the earth to change— What if all the damned, like the lame and the sick, pressed forward, crying Master heal me? But they didn't come. Kept swirling like dust under their dust-colored heaven. In the surprising unity of the damned: not like the saved, each locked in the isolation of being loved. They stayed. One mass. The few he took lined up slowly, fidgeted with their damp shrouds. Their movements heavy as if with sleep. What did they remember of God? —Maybe nothing. Maybe something small. The cold patterned voiceless calling of rain. Rain on leaves. 28 ' The Missouri Review ...


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