Today's poem is by Brenda Mann Hammack


Some things we don't mean to collect,
like ailments and disappointments.
She keeps hers in a cabinet:

all those should-have-been
children, those premature Ophelias,
who died before they could cry.

Suspended in jars like translucent
coffins, they could have been
manikins, or objets d'art,

some things that she'd conjured
to occupy empty space
when nature forgot.

As a seeker of nebulae (ghosts)
and a maker of chimeras (goats
fused with snake, cat, and ape

from his embryo trove), he
gives her what the artist
goads into imaginal

existence. He forges bones
to buttress the gossamer,
grafts wings to uplift

her soul when prayers
aren't enough. He gives
her angels of nature.

In the usual mode of evolution,
butterflies would not cluster
like cloisonné pendants

on winter evenings. Hippogriffs
would not graze the Downs of
Kent or of Hampshire. Wolves

wou1d not wisp through cloisters
like gas flames, and orphans
would not dangle woodworms

for Humbugs to fend off incontinent
woes. Such comfort, he gives her: a child
who won't die, won't grow old.

The museum he lives in
is no vault of natural history,
is no tomb for fossils or rogues

set in wax. Its corridors
open on tableaux vivant,
or living dioramas where

mammoths and unicorns
roan amid bluestone,
where stelae keep time

by shadow, and creation does
not wait on fault, whim, or law,
and is not contingent on God.

Copyright © 2013 Brenda Mann Hammack All rights reserved
from Humbug
Misty Publications
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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