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CONVERSATION IN INCREASING STANZAS / Arthur Vogelsang My brother Uves on a river, narrow and bottomless, He says, fed by rain a day each week, or four days, And he flew down here so we could rearrange our Uves, The phone was getting to be inadequate for that, And I couldn't go there, I had been tending and loving to tend To drive into the Mojave, stop, stand on the shoulder, Then walk out through the creosote bushes and the nothing For an hour not stopping (listened to the bushes rattle). His river attached from the soul in my head to my useful legs Would've been Uke an extra vein down my back, A bulging one, a fire hose taped the entire length there. His soul? No one could give him anything, No one could take anything away, we knew. I was good but I was iU-mannered in my, Barbarous in my heart, but good. We knew. What would happen to everybody, not just us? I helped a dog once. About three inches ofits leg severed, It had thrown up. I got the Kleenex from the car And wiped its mouth. It wasn't me! It wasn't me! (I wanted to kiss you. Lying on your side, Calm convulsions inched you along the ground As if pushed by several small buUdozers.) My brother and I were as alone, in a resistless destiny. Kisses were impossible. Who wiU Kiss me, do not do it avuncular. There is no love without the slop of sex. Each famUy is isolated, Others may not diddle in its unalterable events. WeU, aU that's approximately true, we said. He wanted to teU me a vision. Probably because With my savage's low, practical heart, I sold them. The Missouri Review · 77 We were on a big patio surrounded by queer, offhand AustraUan bushes That seemed fashioned by one of God's bad assistants, There were frankly exotic palms, and a couple high stone walls Of my house. The baking wind found its way there in the dark. He saw—it had to do with three women but it was Brief, and inconclusive. He was intimate with them, AU three knew each other, but they were occupied most of each day With something else, not each other, not him. It was a mystery. It happened on the North American continent, There was lots of plane travel, and though they lived far apart, The women knew each other. I like stories In which I am not expected to talk for a while. To be cUnical, the sex was of equal but different ferocity, Equal grace, and equal duration, Including the bonding of personaUties, With each but each woman was deeply occupied at aU other times With something else. This was not a vision. It was a mystery, And I wondered if I was to have a part, to solve it, But he would not name them and wanted to Uve that way forever. Lots of luck. It often happens here that moistureless heat Comes in quickly at night. We caU it our inexplicable heat. Imagine the sun appearing in the way a lamp is turned on. It did not, there was only a few degrees and more wind in the dark. I think you will find out they are admirable, I said, But what would happen if everybody abandoned the little good They did and became pure self lost in the sea of love? 78 · The Missouri Review Arthur Vogelsang Everybody would be happy, he said. Wind, wind. One time, long ago, I prayed. I used words. That DayUght would come to replace night. Now. Now. Even if the earth had to go off by itself afterward Leaving the sun and murdering aU the flesh they had made together, Now I wanted the Ught five hours sooner. I was a boy. There was no purpose, no reason, I was not afraid. I was alone. I made no noise, except the whispered words. I was not comforted by the others in our Uttle house, My brother was not there, or rather, was sleeping. I helped somebody else once, a person, not a dog, And made...


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