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ONE WHO HEARS / Frankie Paino It is believed that the place where Sodom once stood now lies beneath the south end of the Dead Sea. I do not regret the need to know what befeU those I loved, what brought unseasonable thunder, shook the earth beneath me. I turned to face the burning horizon, despite warnings from a boy my husband caUed an angel the night before, both of them slouched across the table, drunk and whispering, eyeUds smudged with shadow from the dying candle flame. My poor city. How briUiant the Ught which climbed your waUs until sable smoke extinguished everything and the men laughed somewhere behind me whüe my body grew strangely soüd. Pure sensation, part pleasure, part pain, gripped the arches of my feet then climbed my calves, thighs, left an iron heaviness between my hips. My lungs seared, Ups smouldered—volcanic. A miraculous tongue of Uquid fire furled in my mouth Uke a secret flower. My gown twisted, coüed in smoky tendrils above my waist, unchaste and lovely in that arid, ancient wind. I cursed Lot and his angel as they stumbled off toward some distant city, bringing with them 116 · The Missouri Review the Ue which transformed my love into vulgar curiosity, my flesh into a pülar of salt—something impermanent, forgettable. They were afraid of what I had become, a woman sculpted in glass, eternaUy fixed in my final attitude, neither demure nor horrified, but with a shout on my lips, opaque arms outstretched as if I meant to embrace the cinders which rained Uke stars around me. Now Lot's bones are less than dust, but I remain, transfixed at the bottom of the sea which long ago enfolded me. Each dawn these waters burn with rising sun, crystaUine salt glimmers Uke flecks of copper on my shoulders, breast, weaving a mantle of Ught, and I gaze toward the place where Sodom once stood. What do I have left? Lot erased even my name, Simone, meaning one who hears, and I did—the pitiful cries of my lover, my sisters, my friends, united in the terrible music of fire. What choice but to turn back? Even if it meant I would be remembered only as a fool, a woman who could not resist mystery, who was transmuted into a piUar of salt, left as a lesson which instructs us to close our eyes against the bitter Ught and turn away, pretend we hear at every moment, only the music of heaven, the exquisite voices of angels. Frankie Paino The Missouri Review · 117 HORSE LATITUDES / Frankie Paino In horse latitudes saUors once lashed the flanks of stalUons, mares, until those wUd-eyed, gentle beasts plunged overboard, cleaved the still surface, water churning grey froth on their muzzles whüe trumpets of brash neighs turned to whinnies, turned to what they'd say was nothing more than a sudden breeze which filled saus, pushed the ship, water lifting in an eerie sweU Uke the cold silk of your marriage bed, unnatural white, and you weren't even innocent though you tried to be until he pressed his mouth to yours and you snaked your tongue between his teeth so you both knew but didn't care. After twenty-five years, you say, even passion, that universal desire, that voracious brat, grows lean, simple. You learned to go farther on less and less whüe your fingers grew slender, then ugly, slack, and your rings sUpped over bone meaning, one and one and one makes one and you tried to make it back to the beginning of your past when he was a stranger, aU arms and legs gone bronze with sun and you leaned in the window so he could see your breasts, how they were shaped Uke his cupped palms and he gave you his ring which you let dangle at the center of that fleshy parabola. But there was a past before that past, someone 118 · The Missouri Review who had a name only he remembers and when you ask he shrugs and drifts off toward another night pissing beer downtown on the backstreets in front of whores who...


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