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THE BEGINNING OF RITUAL / Jon Veinberg The fruit baskets remain untouched And the corridor is swelled with hats. Someone is tuning the radio While the coffin skulks in the corner Under the whirl of the electric fan. Roll out the Luckies on the nightstand, Uncle Lawrence, It is no longer forbidden to smoke. The pastries are cellophaned. The creditors are frowning. The mantel is polished and the drapes are aired For the wide-eyed and pale busybody Whose hands are well trained in sadness. The priest snaps Polaroids of the family In their rented shoes, shiny as ants Rimming the cherrywood casket and they are smiling Because this is the beginning of their ritual: After soothing the powdered and tubercular face, Straightening the bargain of a red tie And pointing the toes of their dead starward They watch their bodies in the photo Raveling out of the thin gases of paper Into the green forms of any April And they are now laughing through the whitest of fogs As if they were breathing time, Happy as fools and unafraid. 56 ' The Missouri Review THE VOYEUR / Jon Veinberg I'm the laughter that'll flatten you. I'm the creak just out of reach. I'm the smudge Adding a different twist to your shadow And I'm as close as the light balancing The poplars and as far gone as the stars Whitewashing your face. I'm the glow that opens And closes like the refrigerator door or an insomniac's eye. I'm the delicate veil filling your window— Here's your mother slipping on the bathroom tiles And your little sister hanging up her party dress. I'm the last coo in a treeful of owls. I'm the moon Slackened and here's the young widow rearranging Her rings and slipping them under the pillow. Tm The clinking she hears in her sleep. I'm the urge That fills her dreams with flesh and gesture. Tm the drunk that falls asleep reading mysteries. Tm one-half of a sad couple that got rolled over in bed. I'm the dawn waking with cigarettes and a blond In rollers and I breathe easier when there's no light, No pictures on the wall to distract me, no framed Knick-knacks from Niagara Falls topping the nightstand. Here's the blond smoothing her stockings and bobbing Her hair for the soldier home on leave and I praise The clothes that lay piled and mingling in the corner. I praise the bad weather, the tomcats that've been left To fend on their own. I'm the fog that settles in Around your house, secure in that you can only sense me My happiness, my certainty, my oblivious heart. The Missouri Review · 57 ...


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