Stands me, though it could be any of us,
sliced open, scalp to instep, en pointe
in formaldehyde inside a glass case
like some macabre Houdini stunt.
This may be a fin-de-siècle end-of-pier show,
a sicko’s private gallery, a future museum
of mortality—I’d be the last to know:
dutiful sentry in cross-section,
everlasting witness to the visceral
crimson swarms that make us tick,
one open wound that will not heal.
Though I’m no escapologist, there is a trick:
I’m here, yet not here, my absence
and my presence held in stasis.
Now, step up. Place a hand on the glass.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.