Two Poems | Corinne Engber
The Body Exhibit
My empty ribcage is a condemned house,
and after years of silence, rusted nails and moths,
I came home to find the locks changed,
the Persian carpets black with dust.
The windows boarded, the
bats and starlings nesting in the attic screamed
when they reached the belfry because that
was boarded up too. Yellow tape brought the explorers,
which brought the local government, which brought
the protesters who clamored: this is good real estate.
The officials agreed. They cleared the fat
from my heart and built a museum. They painted
the walls in cobalt and cadmium and flat white,
installed mahogany paneling—thick strips of zebra wood.
They sanded and polished for days
until my ribs shone like sea glass.
The board said I will open before February,
but first there were health inspections, building codes.
Sheafs of paperwork to determine if I had
been restored to working order.
Their plan is to house upwards of a thousand works,
sculptures from Bourgeois, Salcedo, Weiwei’s vases,
in addition to my black and pink lungs,
which they deemed to be very modern, art.
After the grand opening, they made plans to expand
to my spine by next June, and maybe even my sacrum if people
don’t mind the walk. The clavicle could be used
for storage, they said, because the foundation is strong
and location is everything. At night,
I listened to patrons hum through my chest.
Paying customers wandered through the galleries and
snuck caresses of bone when they thought
no one was looking. People came to breathe inches
from paintings, not noticing the cadmium,
not noticing the zebra wood. And so I have
to wonder, as the days go by, how someone could gaze
at pieces that are so full of life,
and believe that they could house them in me.
We are seven hours between homes, halfway
to the old one and I keep spotting bodies.
Some, grisly, span the length of the highway,
thick pinkish stains textured enough to catch
in the treads of my tires.
A single mass spread over a tenth of a mile.
Some are more intact, a bundle
of broken legs and antlers on the side of the road.
They never looked like they were sleeping.
The smallest kills were raccoons, groundhogs;
everything else obliterated into the concrete.
I lose count of deer when I spot a black pile
in the shoulder. It’s a bear,
his snout smeared into the gravel,
his fur still glossy under the clouds.
His ears are soft half-moons.
He has no face.
Corinne Engber is the young adult writer at Jewish Boston and recently completed her MA in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. She also served as the head poetry editor for Brainchild Magazine, based out of Kent State University. She lives in Boston with her partner and their cat.
Facebook: Corinne Engber