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40 THE MINNESOTA REVIEW JOAN JOFFE HALL TRAFFIC The problem hits you not when you can't decide which job to take; or keep calling your jilted lover back to forgive you —we need to talk it over, you say; or feel you have to choose between men and women's love, hating both boxes; but when you sit in your car at the head of your driveway and can't move out into traffic. AU across the windshield boxes wheel like booklists, the air fumes up —move, you tell yourself, move; the sun beats on your fist on the wheel, you can smell the back of your hand. Are you really going to do it? What you feel at the moment is permanent HALL 41 When you were ten some family thing stuck you in a chair all day and you scribbled a note to your future self: remember to play; and later, your plane stalled in Pittsburgh, you won the captain's prize for the snapshot with the most faces: you stood right up and took a Polaroid of everybody there. These scenes speed back in the rearview mirror. And the traffic, it's still passing, behind you your house, in front of you your fist. 42 THEMINNESOTA REVIEW REINVENTING THE WHEREWITHAL This day I want to choose what I have never chosen how hard it is to imagine spending one day deliberately breaking all my pottery to wedge back into clay then center clay again and spin like clasping my hands left thumb on top lying late abed I am all thumbs soon I am an infant thumb sucking, useless legs trying to turn my spine following my head head followingeyes soon I see the doorway behind me lintel, post space opening over the threshold what I choose to see is where I go HALL 43 MATTHEW AT THIRTEEN My son is looking for the right length of string. He has a big ball of string ends that he gives me to hold loosely while he pulls gently at an end, walking away. One after another, a dozen or more strips come loose, none quite long enough— his height—for the game underway in his room. I've always admired women with grown sons, and wondered how a boy's body finds it size. I made some off-color joke and laughing he reproved me: didn't I know mothers shouldn't carry on like that? and would I please not do it in front of his friends. He told one boy in a quarrel on abortion just to imagine being thirteen, female, raped and pregnant. The kid refused, said it couldn't happen to him. Then don't talk, my son said. When I call him on the phone I know I'm hearing my own voice. When he first got braces I put my fingers in my soft mouth; his eyes are mine, his bad skin too. But also they are his; and the body lengthens and hardens, pulls away. ...


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