A sign at the history center instructs,
Lift up the hide and take the bison apart.
Beneath fake fur pelt, find ribs and organs.
Carry each rubberized bit of bison
to wand beneath the supermarket scanner
so we may learn how the Dakota used
all parts to the fullest, well beyond basic food,
to survive the western plains.
When we try to put it back together,
it doesn’t fit. Again and again
we reposition and rebuild
from the depth of intestines
once used for storage up through
the scapula once used for digging.
Try it the other way, I direct
from beneath the heft of purple lung
then complain we need better instructions,
eager to move to the log cabin,
to leave behind this splay of carcass,
When we finally have all parts tucked away
beneath the cage of ribs with acrylic fur
patted into place by my daughter,
I look back from across the museum.
Seen from here the bison could be alive,
merely resting against a backdrop
of dirt and grass. From a distance,
without the shine of plastic eye.
Micki Blenkush lives and writes in St. Cloud MN. She is currently a poetry fellow with the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series and is a 2015 recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant awarded by the Central MN Arts Board, funded by the McKnight Foundation. Her writing has also appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Heron Tree, Gyroscope Review, and elsewhere.
See more of Micki's work in issues 3.1 and 4.3 and 5.2