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ORCHIDS, ETC. / Ben A. Heller A thousand termites made their mounds knee-high on Cleveland Ave, St. Louis, and the next sign: two quarts of crickets at every bushbase, the basement—sinister—thick with tense webs. Seven Black Hawks, dispatched at nine-thirty our time, surprised us sleeping, legs tangled and me with a hard on. Windows rattled, pulsing in time to the rotors. How I detumesced! She had dreamt of a forest full of house plants, stag ferns, orchids and ponds dotted with stiff-beaten egg whites. Egg whites. From each copter eight men dropped, impounded the orchids and a difenbachia (one) and later, in a field, exploded them. 272 · The Missouri Review THE JOKE I Ben A. Heller It's a joke you see, how there's this Uttle town in AustraUa called Waterproof, and you can probably see this coming, two men from the town were out canoeing one day and capsized and drowned. Let me interrupt here, Odette, because this may have something to do with the deep lake I dreamt about last night, so green, and dark, and aUve, and the man in the tiny sub who was circUng the outer edge, diving and surfacing and diving again in a waterrefracted blur. It may also explain why I held your head in my hands this morning and kissed your cheeks and your Ups and your eyeUds and forehead until you smiled and pushed me away . . . When I first heard this joke I didn't step forward but now I know what bodies those waters have been leaching and where to find the subjects of that old joke about the Down Under paper that ran the 12 point headline: Two Waterproof Men Drown. The Missouri Review · 173 ...


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