Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New York: Museum of Natural History

we arrive later than intended at the
only a couple of hours to take it in.

the first floor we explore has
dioramas of dead stuffed animals in their habitat.
he says he doesn't like to look at that.
is that for my benefit?
me the vegetarian, he the carnivore?

he says he really wants to see the dinosaurs,
that they redid those exhibits.
that's what i want to see too,
all the real bones of extinct animals.

as we wander the rooms
i take in the whole
and i look up close.
these fossilized bones,
they once gave structure to flesh.

i think about the flesh attaching to the bones
moving sinuously, gracefully, like animals do.
i think about the teeth tearing or grinding food,
about that food travelling
down the throat to the stomach.

this one must be a plant eater, this mammal.
such a big rib cage, surely it had more than one stomach.
we wander sometimes together
sometimes separately.
he has been aloof,
leaving me wanting some sign that he
does care to be there with me.

as we peer at the dinosaur relics
i tell him about holding in my hand
a bit of dinosaur skin,
that my friend told me this
just as she got me so high
and that it blew my mind that
i was holding dinosaur skin in utah.

he chuckled and said
he didn't think i was into that.
suddenly he was more friendly, flirty.
i said it opens doors. (the short version
of my pot-can-be-a-good-thing-at-
moments-in-my-life speech)

now i am getting so close,
imagining myself seeing those animals
seeing how they fought how they ate how they loved
i come upon a creature that
is sort of like a giant crocodile
i stare intently at the brown bones
and i see myself running from it,
its jaws snapping
but wait a minute i couldn't have been human then
am i another animal?

and suddenly he is there
leans in close and says
are you one with it yet?
and i turn quick to look at him
vision gone, replaced.

he moves around me and says,
i spoke too soon. i interrupted.
i could see you running from it.
i almost squeaked.
you did really?
and our eyes meet for a long second.
i wonder, how does this happen?
how does he know?
and why is he so distant,
but suddenly there's no space between us?
somehow we have a connection
in spite of ourselves.

we continue circumambulating
around the floor with the extinct animals.
now i am feeling very much alive
and wishing to confirm that vitality
through urgent eager pressing of the flesh,
a fucking, sucking, head-exploding makeout session.

i begin to feel too much like prey
among giant teeth with jaws that could
tear off my entire head and torso.
i have made them too much alive in my head
or myself too much in their time
so that i am nervous and wish to flee.

i am relieved when we round the corner
and find giant turtles,
my animal of affinity. i tell him
of my vision during meditation, long ago,
and how my friend (of pot-and-dinosaur-skin)
told me we were of the turtle clan
and that's why we clicked.
that i wasn't trying to take someone
else's spiritual tradition, but it was
an important metaphor to me.
he took my photo with the turtle in the sky.

IMG_0335 copy

1 comment:

Tom Paine said...

It's a great museum, but also a hopeless mess in parts. But a wonderful, intriguing, expansive mess.