The Museum of Natural History

My nephew presses his hands and face to the glass
to see a seal diving into an acrylic sea, an otter
floating on its back, fur damp and ruffled,
face turned to the painted sun. He wants
an explanation for why they never move.
The taxidermists have done their job too well,
the eyes of the animals brimming
with something like moisture as they look out
at us, as my nephew looks back.
I’m kneeling next to him at the window.
For a moment our reflections align
and my eyes look back at me from his face.
Then again, the eyes of the animals.

There’s a sadness, I think, in preparing
a body that won’t be touched, arranging
the fur just so to tempt a hand to stroke it,
but there’s a decadence too,
like the expensive vase never filled with water
and daffodils pulled from the garden,
antique chairs for looking and not sitting,
the rouged cheeks of the dead, my own hair
arranged just so, my smoothly shaved legs
which I slide against clean sheets before sleep,
creating the illusion of touch, my two ovaries
curled inside me, perfectly matched,
two bloody translucent pearls.