STILL LIFE


In the central hall – more cathedral than
museum – the queue for the dinosaurs
curls round the replica skeleton
of a diplodocus. Though only four
and very excited, she waits patiently –
and, once we are in the gallery,
studies each exhibit: loves the T Rex
life-size model that moves, that snarls, that roars
and the loop of the movie’s take on these
‘terrible lizards’. The fascination
transcends generations –
real monsters definitively dead
and, if not buried, then truly ossified;
their thirteen thousand and thirty five
millennia, our fifty thousand;
their earth as distant as Hollywood’s.

We visit more megafauna. She leads me
through an aisle of glass-cased taxidermy
to view the carcass of a blue whale strung
from the vaulted ceiling. On the way out,
we pause at the fossilised skeleton
of a giant sloth. We are killing the whale,
as we killed the sloth – what will be left
is this necropolis, this charnel house
with the carved monkeys on its columns,
the faux gargoyles on its roof – and, of course,
real pigeons gobbling crumbs.

 

Note: the poem was first published in 2015 in LIVE FROM WORKTOWN – http://www.livefromworktown.org

 

 

 

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