national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

An Afternoon at the Mütter Museum for Anatomical Anomalies

Sierra Eckert  • 
Swarthmore College

Soap

woman

lives here,

shares a room

with wax dolls, giants, dwarves.

Caked in woman flesh, she dreams (open mouthed)

of trying on the face in jelly hanging next to President Cleveland’s tumor

but her fixed jaws say nothing. A twin fetus contorts its lips, cries at its

other half, my side of the jar.

The mother holds the boy’s hand, stares at the glass reflection, mouth open

slightly, a look she’ll see later on her husband’s face if she says

where she spent the afternoon with their son.

So maybe it wasn’t this place and maybe it was an art museum; she’ll

say nothing about the thigh-skin bound books,

afterwards she won’t say they were hungry, won’t say the chicken

tasted good.

A tug at her jacket, a look mom,

here the mother sees he’s

peering at something

like him,

small,

real.

 


 

Coda:

This poem follows the structure of the Fibonacci sequence — 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,… — in which each term is the sum of the two previous. This “divine” ratio occurs in nature’s perfect forms: shells, waves, flowers, musical chords, and the human body.