Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 Poetry |

Still Life

Dubuque, Iowa, 1941 There is a train, no, there are train tracks wrapped around the cliff and the train and its I'm-about-to-take-him-off-to-war. They stroll, the two of them. I've decided they shall stroll: slowly, tie to tie, over cinders, river, cinders, air, zipping up the distance with their four fine shoes. My mother's, a little worn, as she's saving her coupons for skates. Right/right, left/left, destiny clops. She, why not, in, why not, blue dotted swiss like a pointillist's try at sky, a dash of pigment pink on the one cheek that shows. Her suitor's, no, teacher's, no, suitor's—she's just graduated!—face happens (no photos . . . ) to be hidden completely by the shadow of the cliff. But here in the conjured light, she wraps her elbow through his proffered elbow and the fleshy double helix floats dreamily round the bend into the darling future the train gobbles, smacking them against the cliff face like a kiss. —We almost died, she told a

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