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10.03.98
White Mouth
    I had forgotten all about the star inside the apple, eating my way through orchardsful in the intervening years, years marked by

      Who does not judge each heart by halving it from the top instead of scoring delicately around the girth? Still,

      If I could fill myself with milk I’d be the old statue weathering in the yard: evangelical, cicatrixed with white roses, the white of

      My heart is as sad and wide as the side of a barn, the town drunk said. Anyone can hit it, and quite frequently

      But forgiveness is not in the purist’s white apothecary. Skin secretes, a mouth like oil never dries, and desire does not stay inside the lines

      The face of the statue in the wild yard is soft and smeared as though definition itself were an affront—herein nature’s woozy story

      How “human” is human enough. Little rescues are at hand, angels in plainclothes, but how can we know inside whom embark the seeds of our

      As I stood holding my face up to the night sky the stars in their pristine arrangements pricked every last swollen thing inside me, as if

      For the larger the target of your heart, the more you must smelt yourself down to the slick business of forgiving

      Forgiveness the liquid eating away at the cool white stars of the sugar. Intransigence the cream billowing up through the dark

      I hold with white hands the purity of my own arrangement, while the brown star glows forgotten inside the pristine cage of each

      In the tribunal of the streets I judge and condemn, never by choice but because we do what comes naturally

      Show me, the town drunk said, one star in the night sky that is not waiting to be eaten by the spacious white mouth of the sun

Donna Stonecipher is the author of The Cosmopolitan (Coffee House Press). Her translation of Ludwig Hohl’s novella Ascent was published by Black Square Editions in 2012. She lives in Berlin and is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Iowa.