Inflection

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They are white planets in a galaxy, these wheels
of cheese—before the fungi knobble the skin, cobble
some resistance in the rind. Deep in the cool
caves of Auvergne, a nun sets the circles on shelves
so their surfaces will stain, sheen, stipple,
shade … while above her, a Latin chant
folds many women in one voice. If glass
were music, could it sound like this?
How can we call those words
human, when they’ve flown so far
from our commerce, our marketplace?
Every mold that steeps the skin is local: grafted
and endangered as the dead letters become notes
floating still in vowels from the nuns’ grille.

Christina Pugh’s most recent collection of poems is Restoration. She teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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