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  • Recess and the Speed of Sound
  • Debra Nystrom (bio)

Dewey County, South Dakota, 1963

Middle of nowhere: rattling restlessness trembling the window glass,and boys look up from marbles on the playground,tobacco-bag booty of roundgems spilled, placed to crack one against another at angles that cross

circles drawn in dirt. Cats’-eyes, oilies, steelies—stored beneath bedsat night, while dreams line up precision shots for fingers to holdstill above: perfect-spun explosions, worlds displaced. They’ve been toldno coin-flips, no betting. Jets from the base shear daily over their heads,

shuddering ground, riffling the grasses. Arnie’s cousin in the Air Forcehas climbed down into missile silos over by Pine Ridge that hold the Minutemen,his social-studies report said. The Big Boys are out there under pastures and wind,waiting for their chance. Stopping banter now to notice

crows flapping off all at once, the kids knuckle down and wait for a bone-thuddingboom to shake their game, make what’s precious change hands. [End Page 25]

Debra Nystrom

debra nystrom’s most recent book of poetry is Bad River Road from Sarabande Books. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The Best American Poetry, AGNI, the Kenyon Review, the New Yorker, Slate, the Threepenny Review, and Yale Review. She teaches in the University of Virginia MFA program.



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