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MORPHOLOGY/Anna Meek 1. ?. The biological study of the form and structure of living organisms . 2. The study of word formations. (From Morpheus, god of dreams and of forms dreaming sleepers see.) The American Heritage Dictionary I could invent the blood relatives that come to the infant, its face in gutturals, aU shifting vowels, it struggles for clarity. Dark shapes wander its passageways, amino acids, proteins, the primordial figures move through the infant's expressions, calm it, and sUp away Uke changing weather. So the infant holds up the undecipherable sum of its fat digits, and wails. The relatives mold their hands to its soft skuU, half formed. And they half-dream a terrible dream: the chUd wiU grow to thieve for food, drugs, and then, as a man, wiU take a knife from his friend's heart, the gesture of pulling a rabbit from a hat, astonished, having been the one who put it there. In his desperate night, he will articulate himself at last, a junkie's baby. He wiU inscribe it O.D. The blood relatives cry now over the cradle, shaping their mouths around a strange language. The infant yawns. O. Buried deep in the body, its aorta takes the same shape, O, in a hold around the infant's pumping: open ended, for now. Its relatives know the root of infant means unable to speak. Dumb throbbing. I know language conjures this figure; the letters in his battered genes wiU one day try to make him speak against himself. But by then, the blood relatives wUl have already shifted the words for him, shaping them into different creatures, forms they can bear to see in their dreams, anything but the derivations of grief. The Missouri Review · 25 HAND/Anna Meek Don't touch me. Don't touch me here. Mahler's Ninth Symphony calls for a thousand musicians: twenty-six bones in each musician's hand. AU that music! AU those moving parts. Carnal mathematics: babies soon discover a strangeness before them, their digits appearing like ugly slugs. This is knowledge. Yes, Copernicus counted the stars with his body. Anne Boleyn counted six fingers; she was too much for the king so he cut off her head. Minus one. Intimacy is the number ten. Some nights, I can't control myself. I tend to get out of the bed and shimmy into a skin that dances the lambada until the skin cries with love for me. Morning, I shed the awful thing, leave it weeping on the floor. 26 · The Missouri Review What is the sound that the violinist unfurls opening from the wrist like a question mark? Speak to me in your vocabulary of righteousness, of the sinister and the dexterous. You, these extremes, are too clever for words. Between left and right lives a sweet distance, a yawn of no particular meaning. FiU it with anything; fill it with me, if you like. In the story, push marries pull; they consummate movement, but the child is stillborn. Pull moves out. They may never meet again. What if I professed my faithfulness, offered you my hand? Would these lines reach you? Nowadays, I need help with laundry, dishes, sometimes waking, a meager daily anatomy. My body cannot answer for itself. On the coastline, boulders scrape the water like raw knuckles—not just a state of injury, but a bold and brutal greeting. I must believe that gifts are possible, that tenderness is not unspeakable. Read this as if I could hold you, as if I could hold what I know. Anna Meek The Missouri Review · 27 LANGUE DE FEMME/???a Meek (a grass with a long, sharp blade, commonly called quiver-grass) (langue, Fr., language, tongue) In the shelter's kitchen, we gather in a salty afternoon light, shaky comfort. Almost always someone on the haUway phone crying. The boiling water tattles to exhaustion and sighs. We argue about legaUzing pot, we argue pain medication, not pain medication; I'm the only one here never knifed. SheUa teUs half a story—none of us really understands how to use the new oven, distracted. Apologizing. Joan steps out for a "cigarette" knows one can't...


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