my taxidermy is not the best, but it will do
BY KATE DEBOLT
Mohammed Awidi, on his zoo in Khan Younis, Gaza
Even if the formaldehyde weren’t homemade.
Even if I hadn’t needed
to walk through fire for needles,
for mounts, for glass eyes – no one knows
how hard it is
to stuff an animal that might have died
hating you. First day the ceasefire
let us through:
the lions carved kitten-size.
The porcupine starved to an empty anemone.
The baboon’s cage filled with corpses
he refused to let us touch.
But the worst were the monkeys,
the ones we found wide-eyed, looking up,
clinging to the earth
like they might fall off.
Tonight we will walk the grounds
together & brush aside
the small ghost paws
that tap our ankles. Tell me:
an animal is a body all the way down –
it only knows what the body knows,
it cannot see God washing his hands.
It cannot see the villagers steal
from their homes, with water-pails,
with long, long ropes – & it cannot hope
to see them again, or for that matter wonder
why don’t they come back.
all lives matter
BY KATE DEBOLT
It’s not a thing we bring up,
like a white stone
stopper in a white milk jug.
Like the words might
escape if we aren’t
vigilant. & We are vigilant,
all goose-flesh & pink-
rimmed eyes, in fear
of our lives, all day, all
night, especially at night.
We brush a square patch
of mirror with sky.
Mention how the blue
of an eye is colorless. Just
an empty iris, like
the less there is of us
the more we must deserve.
& ‘more’ is the word,
isn’t it, what boys
in hooded sweatshirts
ask for? Chalking the sidewalk
is good honest work, but then
so is washing it away.