Notes from the Bell Museum of Natural History

Within this slate, ivy-bearded garrison, / Francis Lee Jaques’ antipodes of light and dark / buttress each faithful diorama. / A visitor’s gaze loiters on tranquil pools / where mother moose and calf stride / fetlock-deep in somber mire. // Also exposed in frozen resolve, / one can nearly witness the swift intent / of the bobcat as she draws near nescient partridge. // Amid these dim halls purlieus abound, / curating the hours that twitch whisker thin, / glass eyes blind to imaginary haunts / we’ve built to house taxonomy unravelling / through the toxic lapse of centuries, / deaf to the cadence of more ancient pulsebeats / or the chuffing engine of our ruin, / drowned beneath proliferation’s thrum. // Precision, tongue tipped, alights fine— / an Audubon pinfeather. // But our own oblivion is inevitable, / heaven replicated in 60-watt lumens; / Cithaeron’s sacred breeze throttled / inside these disemboweled bellows. // So we become catalogued ourselves, / specimens unaware our bone palings have turned / to halms of straw and wire, / or that the bite of verdant timber / is merely a cloying film of Pine-Sol / blistering the museum’s floor.

Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and full-time high school English teacher. Her chapbook Naked, Getting Nuder was a finalist in the 2018-2019 Glass Chapbook series, and is under contract with Clare Songbirds Press. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in r.kv.r.y quarterly, The Hunger, Waccamaw, Spider Mirror, Anomaly, Lavender Review, and Riggwelter.