Collective Unrest

 

The Familiar

February 27, 2019

Among the useless items—
a stuffed dodo,
wondrously opaque and
clear-eyed, a black hole dug
around your nested ear.

Gregor, I christen you,
leaving my human oils on your fragile beak.

I am sorry, Gregor, that
Bees Maid and borax, the most
common preservatives
could not save you from
your own mushy flesh, crawling

with the neglect of the head taxidermist
of the British Museum.
He was too fixed
on the Fiji mermaid—that wretched hoax!

I wish to honour you, O, Gregor!
See you in your glory
like the cormorants in Dublin’s Dead Zoo.

This creature cabinet
contains a charred chicken head
and an alligator foot,
above them, you, the dodo,
wizened; merlin of
stuffed specimens.

But, Gregor, you crawl with
careless
needlepoint and lice.

The varnish crumbles,
mottled feathers slicked
with shoe polish
and vinegar.

Your creator, your Frankenstein—
he ought to be dug up and stuffed,
brought back from death and brined
forced to look in your single, glass eye.

What disrespect!
What callousness!

Gregor, my friend, I will not let you fall, obscure,
into a garbage shoot
or rest lonesome in that forgotten creature cabinet.
I will hold you close to my chest
as I slip out the back door of the museum

I will stroke your empty socket
while I sleep at night,
place you on the mantel for guests to admire
keep you nestled in my bike basket with your own wool scarf.

Fear not, O, Gregor!
Fear not, my darling dodo,

for you
are on your way home.

 

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She will complete her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018 and begin a MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology at University College Dublin in 2019. Erin‘s debut novel. Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019.

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