The Taxidermist Takes on an Apprentice
When asked, she says it started with chickens
on a cousin’s farm, mayhem
of movement, reptilian fluttering irruptions.
Such a fine line between phobia and phillia .....
Draped across workshop benches creatures hover
between alive & dead, artificial & real. First lesson:
a study-skin, Sparrow Hawk, (always start with birds .... easy
to procure, small enough to be worked
at a kitchen table). You’ll get used to the smell
of “high” flesh, oozing fluids, the sound
of crunching bone. Work-out out the rigor
mortis, inspect for shattered bones, torn
skin, establish cause of death.
Note: left eye, blood-full. Think flown
into window, not rock thrown by a boy.
Inject eyes with water so they can be
measured, replaced with glass.
If the skin is beginning to rot, treat
with borax to stop further loss.
Accept that you can never really stop
further loss. You’ll mend countless bones, salvage
slipping skin, ruffle innumerable feathers. You will
become intimate with the necro-
geography of Eagle Owl, Hawkfinch, White-Crested
Laughing Thrush. You’ll be privy to secrets
of assembly, but don’t dare believe
you’re breathing songs
back into the dead.