I found a black-capped chickadee on the sidewalk,
still, maybe struck down in flight, and I took it
because I collect skulls, place them on a shelf
for display. There seems such meaning
in the curves and hollows, the processes and foramina.
Bone isn’t like flesh--it lasts. You can handle it,
admire it without breaking the taboo of decay.

She calls herself hollow and raps on her ribs
to produce the wooden sound of a struck cabinet.
Like the Dali sketch of a figure with drawers
emerging from along the length of the body,
the parallel razor blade slashes on her legs,
her arms, her stomach, above her breasts
mark the shelves. She found something dead
and put it inside her chest, hid it away
in a dry place to keep it safe
alongside the flesh of past wrongs, grudges.
Those kinds of things have a way of growing
through rotting.

I found a deer skull in the forest, holes where eyes
once saw brunette leaves spread across the ground.
Its hollows of bone held more life
than I ever saw in her tense eyes--
splintering shelves holding too much weight.

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