Apr/May 2010 Poetry

In the Museum

by Andrew Oerke

In the Museum

Browsing among the polyglot
remains, the reconstructed frets
and struts of skeletal pasts, I
wait for you to startle life
into this dull rummage sale of WAS.
I pass stuffed flamingos smoldering,
or glass cages in which Time, scaled
down, and defunct as a fossil,
builds mammoths and sabre tooth tigers
hardly big enough to stanch a yawn.

I thought I saw you behind bars
of dinosaur ribs, but I squint
and my focus frees a stranger.
If I could clamber up and peep
backwards through these horn-rimmed sockets
at the past, I'd be translated
into a hairy, dumb, coeval
thing, and still, remembering some
previous face, my eyes'd scan farther
back, not forward, looking for you.

Perhaps I'll find you by water
with fish and appropriate plants.
I recall that dinosaurs
died out, while whales, reverting to
seasurge, survived; and whatever
hind- or foresight made blubber thrive
guides me also here to flounder
and squid, where I locate you at last
by the sea turtle tank, lost in
the ancient mothering of their wings.


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