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TECHNOLOGY AS NOSTALGIA / Bin Ramke In Ueu of passion, pity. Ask it. TiU death do us, she said, part. In lieu of passion, pity. The young need ideas, Uve off them. Like church, like long hours and acts of attention or contrition, staring at statues untU something moves; miracles of music, too. The boy was overrun by uncles, overwhelmed by the idea of his own chUdhood: he loved the flame turning in the hand of his uncle cold and hard: he watched him tune an acetylene torch down to a needle of blue-white to cut or connect. In Ueu of pity there was always work. The most amazing act of faith in the future, which failed: he watched his uncles load the cow into the traUer, twist her tail to encourage her up the ramp untU he heard the snap of bone—only the small bones of the tail. And then he watched her sudden slump into meat, the amazing accuracy of death In that hammer, and the subtle courage of the butchers, the blood only accidental, a meticulous detaU. The cow as full of the future as she had ever been: Everyone makes a life. He had his, the music, the late night radio. GuUt and a sense of humor. Like a priest he held his wine, Uke a chaUce after dinner, the last of the evening gathering there, a little dome inverted, red as blood in the crystal; secretly 182 · The Missouri Review becoming a priest in spite, fuU of marriage and maUce as he ? was: to fashion a new man, he said, he'd take what materials lay at hand and make a glorious head and shoulder to bear the look the ladies want, fit to wear the latest fine fabric, the newest: the lake was peaceful where they walked after dinner reminiscing Uke true lovers, anticipating a past they could talk about, count on, deny when the time grew convenient. It was a way to praise— "Oh who would be hurt," she said. "Let him have his vanity, let him have his say. Men think that way. Like popes may feel in their new chapels, the artist sneering and the priests appalled. It's aU Uke being smart, a little too smart. So what if he wanted to be loved, so art became a club he beat the world with, became in his Uttle hands a bit above credit cards, to cash in from time to time when he'd count the losses once a month. Like a period," she said. He would answer, but it was sadder than that, you had to be there, to walk along the lake as they did, to hear the leaves hiss above and the ducks in the distance, the dismal. The pastoral so fuU of Uttle lUies, the newly patented roses. The path crunched underfoot, laughter echoed across the water. And so exchanging pasts Uke insipid vows they Uved happily ever after. Bin Ramke The Missouri Review · 283 INCANDESCENCE / Bin Ramke These days. But being romantic at heart, knowing the options, I refused both fish and fowl, and walked around the lake she loved, praising. Whistle of despair foUowed by the faithful dog loping, long terrific tongue and something like a smUe. The smartest woman in the world huddled in her wheelchair, seemed to see a sunset— o Uttle woman of Cambridge. Befuddled as she might be anyway, there are these further sounds, satisfying upsets, unplanned and preposterous: the trumpeter next door as if in the movies, to get her attention, but not so annoying as you'd think, keeps the window open to practice late night scales, and the cars on the interstate link like the ocean, sounds, its slow reach and roar. Desire as the obUgatory restraint of the anxious: the lovely chUdren of the future, the famous future we've heard so much about, wiU feast. MeanwhUe let us fast and Uke some curious incandescence pursue the purity and absence and sUence. The smartest woman in the world has burned her books but it was an old joke, rearranging furniture as the last step in architecture, learned reaction, a lucky continuance. Only stopping to sleep...


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