“among the taxidermy mountain goats…” and Two Others

among the taxidermy mountain goats in the museum of natural history

the little girl dreams
of a shipwreck; she sways

on the bow when the wave
capsizes her & alone
she sinks her wool coat,
pockets full of starlings

glossy & dark—they fight
their path to the surface,

she can see the murmur
through the sugar glass
ocean / in her eyes a
reflection of a small egg,


at night, when the nests rustle in the body
of a redwood & starlight is a perfume
in the cavernous hall of 17th century glassware &
painted enamels; when fruit bats pollinate the
calabash growing on the fourth floor, gourds
overtaking the ropes around a poussin & the last
light in the basement flickers out, wood crates
infested with long-horned beetles cracking slowly,
treasures spilling across the tiled floors; when the
toads mate loudly beneath a botticelli & dust peels
the paint from the out-turned feet of a dancer;
when there are so many sounds & so few places to
sleep, the nightwatchman can no longer tell the
difference between a statue & coyote, teeth bared
towards a rabbit

“yes many & beautiful things”

                    after Sappho, translated by Anne Carson

– a blue scarab buried under a fallen tree branch, glass

– ten little ants collecting the scattered seeds of a dandelion

– do you think they made a wish, when it swirled above the ground?

– paint chips, flesh colored, the shadow of a knuckle

– in winter, the pond freezes & a feral cat scratches at the fish underneath

– a da vinci will burn just as well as kindling

– but if you really want to destroy a work of art, do nothing. simply let it warp, canvas & rabbit skin
glue temperamental in the humidity.

– use a picasso as a dining table, if you’re feeling generous

– do you remember the art first or the artist? the title, or the figure in the background—icarus, for
example, feet up

– there is gold in the arts of the americas wing

– a rocking chair on its side, vines between the slats

– a collection of photographs fallen out of frame, their corners nibbled on by rabbits

– in the gift shop, you can take anything you like—sodden puzzles & mossy scarves / rusted umbrellas,
a snapped coaster

– the great staircase—all museums have a great staircase somewhere—is filled with forest

– a butterfly sticker, half folded, holds on to the shell of a tortoise, slowly making her way towards the

Image: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.