The Dead Zoo

David Butler

Mausoleum to the dying arts

of taxonomy, taxidermy,
philately, cabinet-making.

An exoskeleton, to contain

the accumulation of exhibits

in support of Mr Darwin’s thesis:
the trophy heads of ruminants;
the badly upholstered apes;
the trays of assorted beetles;

the cochlea of a fossil, and
a complete set of surgical bills:

spatula and forceps and tweezers;
fashioned to probe the intimacies

of the cockle’s inner ear.

What religion could remain deaf
to such meticulous cataloguing?

To cap it all, hung from a trapeze

an assemblage of whale-bone,
as any contraption dreamed up by da Vinci,
as if to demonstrate, summing up,

that Nature has a Renaissance mind

and inexhaustible patience.