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Wilson’s Specimens

Quickly, he learned the art of flensing,

of peeling back the strange skins

from the swimming birds that streaked beneath

the Terra Nova’s prow,
learned

a rhythm of slice and pause timed

to the ship’s lurch, bright flash

of metal in his chill hand conducted

by wave and ice against hull.

And so the skins piled up—became his plenty

as onions dwindled in the barrels and flour sacks

sagged from full and the taste of his own mouth

became foreign to him.
Black and white pelts

feathered, sleek, unqualified by gray. His diary

of the journey. His best calendar of days

—moldy, cramped in their salted boxes—

but, once home, exotic, redolent

of all he found he could not say.

from Approaching IceFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Elizabeth Bradfield Poems

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