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MICHAEL WATERS

THE CURIOSITIES

Medical Museum
Walter Reed Hospital
One jar stamped "what remains of the brain of Charles
Guiteau"
& wedged among larger jars of pale microcephalics-
bug-eyed incubi squatting on sleepers in fairy-tale
illustrations-
glints in the fluorescence. Stillborn
cyclops, syphilitic penises like blanched stalks of angelica,
the head of a young seaman flowering with red algae-
how would Whitman have catalogued this library
as he browsed hand-in-hand with his brakeman
among the singular stacks? Could his unshakable love
for the disinherited and homesick and gangrenous
teenage privates embrace these fused twins, their incestuous
union, face-trunk-crotch merging vertically
into crotch-trunk-face, blunt arms
radiating, little human starfish? My own lover
stares, rapt, at the stitched lips of these spongy children
who stare back from their brackish
cradle through decades of dust. Blistery nights,
as she twists in sleep, I'll slip off the sheet
& draw my fingers over her damp,
imperfect breasts till the dawn seeps outward,
till desire flares. How then can I forget
these jars stuffed with the invisible
masses who touch us in our dreams, who steep
our yearnings in their milky waters?-suspended
curiosities, terrible beauties, hushed assassins.

Copyright 1995 Blip Magazine Archive

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Copyright 1995-2011
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