Like Taxidermy


Today I saw the body of a deer
    at the edge of Canal Road, a classic example
     of the doe-meets-car cliché.

Yes, it was pitiful, 
   and, yes, grotesque, 
        but the straight, rigor-mortis stiffness

of its legs made it seem fake
   in its realness, like taxidermy—
      not the noble, moose-head trophy kind

that you could swear just blinked at you, 
   but the amateur variety, where all sense
      of the natural is wrung out

of the pelt and the face is just a bit too
  sideways. Though I only caught
      a quick glimpse of that rigid cervine husk 

it managed to revive a memory
   I can find no use for:
      the years-ago trip to the science museum, 

the anatomy exhibit with preserved organs
   from cadavers. There, among other bodily artifacts, 
      a pair of smoker’s lungs, asphalt-black 

and mottled, like a scorched chunk
   of halibut. I knew the sight was intended
      to disturb, to shove a slab of mortality

in my face like a plastinated PSA.
   Yet there I stood,
      staring down the grisly display,

not convinced that such un-pink lungs
   could ever have breathed in the first place, 
      nor that dead was the right word.