The Quaint Hornbill House Story
A friend of mine once shot a dove.
Its spouse, instead of fleeing,
perched itself near the dead one.
What a cry it was!
I often compare it to paeans
offered to remind the gods:
They needed to take care of us.
Adam picked it up, and like Dra Abu el-Naga,
ventured to mount a series.
The skeleton and musculature stayed under
its plumage, freeze dried for posterity.
Taxis, he said, arrangement of the aligned souls
Dermis, for skin, and memorializing feeling.
If he looked at me when he uttered, he’d know:
There are other methods to record breach.
The dove in the middle of his home, like art, or sculpture,
Like something threatened, retrieved.
Not so easy! The cries of its mate
beneath its skin, layer upon layer upon layer,
of curses and griefs,
shrinking, warping, wrinkling Adam’s life,
like it’d never been.
If you ever been to the Hornbill House,
may you climb the museum stairs, take the left,
peruse the Siamese twin squirrels,
mounted and dressed in Victorian gowns
partaking in a game of croquet.
I bet you’d see Adam next,
hung upon cotton-wrapped wires
with sewn-on cured skin.
Just about staring at you
in a life-like pose.
Mandira Pattnaik's poems have appeared in/forthcoming in The Times of India, Prime Number Magazine, MayDayOnline, Eclectica Magazine, Panoplyzine, Not Very Quiet, West Trestle Review, Variant Lit and Feral Poetry, among other places. Her work "Love Poem to the Peepul" (FartherTrees) was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2022. She also writes prose. More at mandirapattnaik.com
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