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BANK / Jonathan Holden And over all, of purest gold was spred A trayle of yvie in his native hew: For the rich metall was so coloured, That wight who did not well avised it vew, Would surely deeme it to be yvie trew: —Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Il.xii The mood is "guarded optimism" here. To every short horizon, east or west I see the stupid rhetoric of stone. With physical bravado, stone asserts oh, several hundred thousand tons of trust at least, as if our faith in deities as effervescent as a decimal point could be confirmed, tested by the pound. This is the environment of number, this is the greenhouse where it's grown, soUd-looking as a church. It's müd as a maternity ward. Here we can actually watch the virgin birth of Money—from the first whaUop on the back to the final handshake to get it breathing. The glass through which we peer is sound-proof, buUet-proof, but we can watch it grow, move around in there—the numbers multiplying themselves, aU this without rainfaU, sun or soU, without a sound. The "farmer" dabs the keyboard with her naU, my check is sown, transubstantiated into number. She slides me a receipt. She advises me to have a nice day. She means it, but she doesn't really mean it personaUy. She only means it with the literal, oh so cautious, sUghtIy embarrassing imagination of a bank. And, though I know better, although Tm Uke an atheist in there, 36 · The Missouri Review so help me, after making a deposit, when I emerge into the raw sunUght with relief and descend the temple stair, bearing in my waUet printed proof of my own solvency I feel absolved, I carry with me a faintly pious glow from having done something that I should— this trivial, shameful, Uttle glow of knowing that, officially, I'm good. Jonathan Holden The Missouri Review · 37 THE PARABLE OF THE SNOW MAN / Jonathan Holden "We let our investments just roll over," explains a certain kind of neighbor that I meet at parties. He shrugs, offers a pleased apologetic smüe that's no apology at all, it's a gentrified cock-a-doodle-doo. "RoU over." To see what that might mean, remember grammar school: The predicate, roll over, needs a noun. There must be "something" which will either "roll" or which, if you are luckier, and not facing uphUl, can be "rolled over." If you're still luckier, it wiU "roll over" automatically, quarterly or annually and, with each full rotation, compound itself. Everyone knows this. We knew it when we were chüdren making snowmen. We learned it from the snowballs which we bent our backs behind as we pushed them forward, pedalling hard against their mass— that each time they rolled over and grabbed more snow they would grow fatter, that the fatter they got the faster they'd grow fat. Mere snow! Yet we could make it roll over with our work. And when it had grown too heavy to be budged we were pleased with ourselves for having compiled so much from so little—such a grand facsimile of property! Back then, a snow man was Uke a grade-school parable 38 · The Missouri Review whose moral we knew and understood: Push hard, and you can have the things you want. Everyone had snow. Jonathan Holden The Missouri Review · 39 THE PRINCIPLE OF DUALITY / Jonathan Holden Three sparrows shivering in three trees make a floor so pure they can't catch it with their claws, they scratch at it. With this knife, three grand slices of the sunset make one target of a seed too hard to peck. Sparrows don't worry about duality. They jab once, twice, then spurt away. They're lucky. The harder Hawthorne stared the surer he was he could detect something infernal behind old Goodie's catechizing smile. Was it lava or cold mud? The thing befuddled him. Suppose you and your lover have just perfected a technique to meter pleasure so minutely to the edge of pain you can't even remember what you screamed. Shower briskly...


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