Thursday, February 4, 2016

Brain Coral

Before it can be showtime
I have to get you into the steel frame
Expertly molded around your shape -
Delicate calcium carbonate

Inside, the prongs are lined with felt
To smooth the cradled surface of your weight
Tiny screws slide into place and
I tighten them slowly
Careful not to cause a break

Little bits of your surface
Rest like snowflakes inside the wooden crate
That goes from place to place
Traveling between continents
My job, unglamorous
To catalog, inspect, repair, if possible
The inevitable toll
Damage unavoidable in a cargo hold

You were not meant to fly but
To live in still ocean silence
Among the brackish algae
Little creatures sprouting from your pores
A mockery to put you on display -
A benefit to science
Paradoxical interplay

In San Diego I find larvae in your holes
Under the magnifier's scrutiny
I rush you to a freezer
To kill the invaders
To protect the other bones and skins
From life reconfigured inside their shells

I am a zookeeper of the dead
A wrangler of bones and stones
Tomorrow you'll be out in the open, marveled at
For all to see

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