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53 Robert W. Hill Testing When the milkman showed up at my door, I knew why he was there (this is not a test). He wore a white cap, white jacket, white pants, white socks and shoes. His hands hung, white gloved like some Disney duck or dog, but missing no fingers. When he raised one hand to palm me hello, it fell off, dropping precisely with the other hand, its fingers stretching down, beginning to grasp as if car keys barely out of reach behind the washing machine, still running. An odd thing to see (this is not a test)—one hand, ventral aspect, palming its finger-pads up to me; the other, dorsal, reaching downward, knuckles this way, a spastic swan-dive turned vaguely pike. I did not see them hit the ground but did imagine their timely separation and very fast fall (as gravity has it). The milkman squinted hard at me. Not Clint Eastwood's slits in faux Mexican sun glare, rather the kind meant to squeeze out salt-sweat when you forgot your headband for tennis in July—a sphincter-squint (this is not a test). His left eye drooled a line of black tears or blood or renal effluent. From the right, blue tears or blood of food coloring seeped more slowly, gathered tongue-wide down his white shirt to his white web belt's brass buckle, disappearing into his waist (this is not a test). I watched for blue to seep through his pleated pants. It never did as long as I stood there. Still squinting, like Judge Samson through cindered eyelids, he turned around, lifted one handless wrist or the other in a backward farewell, tottered down the sidewalk to his white-paneled MILK truck, got in, and (this is not a test) somehow drove away. I couldn't see his hands anywhere at the porch. Only my standing order—two quarts of milk, one pound of butter, and a dozen eggs. I had no idea who would eat it. I took it all inside , shoved the other twelve bottles to the back of the fridge (clink clink), stacked the butter on the other six pounds in the freezer (chock chock), and, taking up each of the eggs, crushed one at a time (slop slop) into the open bucket under my sink, with the other six (this is not a test) dozen, which, all together, stank less when I shut the cabinet door. Then I had time. So when that sadly concaved woman from the hospital down the block pushed her five-wheeled IV pole up my driveway, which is way steeper than my sidewalk, I heard her coughing deep baritone rattles, hawking and spitting. She fumbled (this is not a test) in her robe pocket for cigarettes which were loose (bummed or stolen, I suspect, one by one), one wheel jerking and creaking. She couldn't light up with a match while walking the IV tree with one hand (she wouldn't pause—the sloughing air 54 the minnesota review flicked her flames), and her increasing speed, even as she surged up the driveway, kept breezes lifting her collar flapping her terrycloth belt like a newly-crippled wren. But (this is not a test) I knew she'd never get here, to my door, and her self would not matter to me at all, not after seeing those two hands fail in their connections, such beauteous white—one thing is true as it was, the other also true as can be. ...


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