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THE FEAR OF GOD / Bruce Beasley Slashes of sleep & fitful dreaming, & then it starts: dust furious in sunlight, the Blue Ridge quartered in windows, God-vague & distant, smudged by sunrise. A smother of bus-smoke & low thunder, & frozen shrubs twist the recoiled crunch of their limbs. The gingkoes peel, leprous behind their fence, migrating sparrows perched on the iron spires— I can see my breath marked on the damp air, like the days scratched on a prisoner's wall. Half the sky scraped raw of its clouds, half-moon bared— Season of revelation, advent of love. There's something that watches us & hordes its desire, remote 30 · The Missouri Review from whatever it needs, that waits for all things to revert to it, in death, & bides its time God is a circle, says Alan de Lille, whose center is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere It scares me, this restless intelligence, desire without form, without object, tonight, clouds scavenging the moon, this yearning I can't satisfy, never pure, never sorrowful enough— I want it to leave me alone, to atone for my sins, one by one, then forget who I am, what I've done— In a tangle of dark branches, the low leaves sheltering fruit, I saw it once: a lit face in a blur of apple leaves as I spun past on my grandfather's swing, arcing over his great flowering yard. I thought I'd die, Bruce Beasley The Missouri Review · 31 thought I'd swing into the black trunk of that hundred-year-old tree, his strong arms yanking the rope, the heavens just past the branches & he pushed till I broke free, sunspots in my eyes, clouds forming & disassembling, something secret calling me, hauling me on The heavens can't be infinite, can't be full, or there would be no darkness in the night sky, uncountable stars from everywhere would gorge us with their splendor— You could never close your eyes against that light. Suppose, at genesis, God imagined every good the world could hold, then created them, one by one, for us, as substitutes for His love— I envy della Robia's singing angels their strange jubilation, holding hands exulting, blowing on their horns, crowding over their hymnals, beating out the time. 32 · The Missouri Review Bruce Beasley ...


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