New one! That opposite exercise really got my ink flowin', if you know what I mean. I know that you do.
On The Picture of an Unknown
Italian Anatomist, circa 1890
The pickled babies in the corner are cursing us
while the half-leopard half-monkey laughs from
his perch in the bookcase.
A man in the center sits at a desk
circled by fingers and chins sunken
in heavy jars. We can't smell whether
the fluid is like honey or viscous oil,
but we can see the rising flecks of matter
like sequins on a ballgown: fingerprints
floating free of the hand's skin, shards
of femur like dissolving petals.
The man's beard catches the light just so
it appears to be burning but he pretends
we are not here, that we can't see him
and continues to fix his eye on the page
in front of him.
Where we sit, it looks blank,
and the edges of the photo
near the tattered lemur,
the rows of wax knuckles and the house
cat that blurs with life
are darkening, closing.