Joe Bonomo


One, they called "fetal pig." One gimpy leg stiffly cocked, one poor arm.... He wore a platform shoe and glasses. The biology teacher screamed at them. That morning they drew shaking scalpels to the soft underside of the frog. He pinned thin skin-flaps to the table laying back its tiny dress. As taught, he sliced its stomach, drew it open. Inside lay a half-digested cricket—a stillness greater than that surrounding it. How abstract, the slow dissolve. This was many years ago.
      He can't get the formaldehyde out. Today a curious circle of crow feathers in the back yard, some spearing the ground straight. Agony pulled though air. He walks outside to a crow dead in the yard, dropped from the tree like a handkerchief—closer: that isn't a broken neck, or a head hid in a wing. That's a head cut clean off. What odd nature he lives by.



I knew a woman who grew up in a funeral home, knew the moaning and wailing, the dream-like harp during family wakes while she drew or wrote, or tried to sleep, the seep of formaldehyde like plum or pear—air, awakening to its waxed fate, rushing from uncollapsed cavities, the dead body sighing. Sundays in church and the bare loft, long after the choir had left to congregate closer to the altar, whispers sent forth too mysterious to protest as anything more than wind through pipe, or creaks in floorboards, however this affirmation of silence, this exhalation, came.



What I'm reading, June '06: D.J. Waldie's Holy Land, Alphonso Lingis' Dangerous Emotions, Nick Tosches' The King Of The Jews, and Baseball Digest.