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SPLIT LILACIAnn Uuinger The finches already avoid it. Limbs dangling, it teeters between elements. What's stiU standing, root-shocked, is only lodged in earth, the ruffled wing of a bird pitched to ground. Air tugs it out of the swarming dark toward a dry singularity. Don't grieve. Revenants need a vanishing. But still the violence ofchange surprises you, though you were well schooled in my sudden blooms, my perfume. The Missouri Review · 139 SPARES/v4tttt Lauinger My mother used to beg the dentist to puU every damn tooth in her head and spare her the grief. Typically, she preferred the grand gesture (annul nature!) and scorned smaU measures (brushing her teeth). She saUed to sleep by way of Candy Land; M&M's, peanut brittle, chocolate kisses, Demerol, and Librium freighted the nightstand. At last, mybionic mother got her wishes: capped teeth and a stomach tube. Her days afloat in the lounger were buoyed by thrillers and soda pop (later diapers, a catheter, air through a hole in the throat). "I don't have to bother eating"; she waved at the glop being piped to her guts. As if she'd cheated fate she flashed me a joyful grin. Her teeth looked great. 140 · The Missouri Review ARIEL'S LEG/Ann Lauinger Ariel is fifteen the summer she finds a bump on her ankle. They cut off her leg at midthigh. Miranda is fifteen too that summer. Sullen in her parents' orbit she plots escape velocity. Blue midnight on the beach in Bermuda. Miranda kisses a prince who cries, "My salt and slippery darter your breasts are tipped with coral!" Oh, brave new planet. Back home, the bastard never calls. In gym class, one-legged Ariel unstraps her prosthesis and spins it across the polished floor. It's the phantom body that's real, the body that remembers swimming through small-mouthed caves and ribs of wrecks dark with sea kelp. The re-membered body, in spite of saw-toothed light descending everywhere. The Missouri Review · 141 LEAVING SODOM/Ann Lauinger They did not look back Because the streets melted tike wax Because who would plant the turnips? Because the angel said not to Because the dog with the can tied to his tati died Because they would gloat and they should pity Because even a frog has eyes Because stars are sown for the righteous Because they would pity Because justice blossoms from the bitter almond tree Because the dead gnaw the feet of the living Because you can't haul the moon out of a well Because they would not understand Because fear would be their meat and anger their pillow Because they would understand She looked back Because in the roaring black flame and bituminous raining molten stone coUapse of ash choked night-for-day a sweet clear voice sang: There is no river but memory Raise up, raise up a pillar ofour tears 142 · The Missouri Review THE PARTYIAnn Lauinger Last night I gave a party for my dead. They arrived together on time, even the cats. The living room was ready—vase of gray iris, upholstered chairs invitingly bedded in dirt but the guests swarmed the kitchen. I'll admit I probably should have given more thought to party snacks. But who the hell knows what the dead like to eat? As it turned out they weren't fussy. Maple syrup swigged straight from the bottle. Raw eggs, shell and all. Stringy meat blackening on the bone, tomato paste furry with blue mold. Plastic tofu, chickpeas in viscous suspension and much more, with deft fingers groping my dead exhumed, devoured with bloodless lips. Silent, they ate me out of house and home. When it was aU gone, they leaned exhausted on one another, their eyes fixed on the floor. The cats clamped teeth on taUs and hurtled as one off the top shelf, draping Aunt Birdie's neck. Hunger will break through stone walls, she said just before she melted across my threshold leaving me ankle deep in empties to shift for myself on appetite's littering tides. The Missouri Review · 143 KNIVES/Ann Lfiuinger We lay dangerous things out between us. The knives are washed...


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