oblivion, the cruelest place to be — line adapted from Gregory Orr
in this museum of the catastrophic, this
gallery of specimens…
I pet the filaments of beard, smooth his
eyebrows, ask the floor nurse who calls him by his name
for ruff, for part that won’t decay after his passing. That
top-knot of his sable thinned—that
worked, rebearing like a broken barge this irreconcilable direction.
I’d thought that I could bring him back from narrow passages
lit with jack-o-lanterns, back to find under the porchlight
the dinosaur I’d ordered
from a catalogue…a talisman
against the guise of death he fiercely masked.
I’d stitched by hand
the cape, the cap that mummed the horny plates. The pattern
that had failed him,
despite the fierce expression.
No species of maternal can protect
the hatchling from the ash, the sandstorm of the organs
…the nest an artifact, the egg like hardened loaf inside the empty
center—the jeopardy of the body
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 3.
See all items about Kathleen Hellen