Matthew Olzmann

          — American crime procedural television series (2005-2017)

It amazes me that people like Temperance Brennan exist.

Even if she doesn’t actually exist. That people like her exist.

The world is full of people that murder people

and there need to be people

who can look at the remains of the murdered,

even when the remains are unidentifiable, people

who can glance at a radius or ulna, and tell you:

how long ago, and how old, and were they in pain,

did they like dancing, and how death arrived with a heart

full of malice and an ice pick in one hand.

I have no idea how she sees what she sees.

When I look at things I see only the seeable thing itself,

not the thing it was, not the thing it could be,

not the thing inside kept secret from the world

because the world would bring it harm.

I look at buildings and don’t see the wires and pipes

behind the concrete and plaster. I look at my front lawn

and don’t see the earthworm beneath it all

with its multiple hearts sobbing in the dark. Thus, I conclude

Dr. Brennan (author, FBI consultant, forensic anthropologist)

is a modern superhero and should be enshrined as such.

Her superpower is not the ability to solve murders,

but the ability to look at a pile of bones and see a person.

Today, most people are not able to see a person

even when looking at an actual person.

I’d like to think I’m better, but last week

some guy called me a libtard and for five seconds

I forgot he was a member of our species.

I hated him, just a little, but multiply that feeling

by a few thousand years, and you have the Problem

of Civilization. Last week, an old episode of Bones was on TV.

There was a scene where Brennan examined a skull

alone in her lab. I paused it because a single frame

reminded me of Caravaggio’s Saint Francis in Prayer.

In the painting, the saint looks down at the skull,

the skull stares up at the saint,

each one studying the other,

trying to solve that original mystery.

They’ve been this way for centuries.


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