Exhibit: Leftover Model from the Museum of History
History is a matter of perspective:
put your eye to my navel. Inside,
I'm trompe l'oeil in apron and bonnet,
keeping the homefire burning.
Last year's model in yesterday's switchyard—
what am I for if not forgetting?
Come in, come in. There's room for all—
mice and manifestoes, Zelda's last boa.
The Man in the Moon's off to tea
with the burlesque girls from years ago.
Cleopatra is dusty, Napoleon's gone bald,
and the Gold Rush gave up in Nevada.
Someone's washed his hands, someone's
called it quits, and we're left
obsolete as an icebox, packed in the attic.
Make something of myself? I've already snapped
two good needles in trussing up
my possible eras. Memory
is for the feint of heart. Instead,
I proffer the marvelous revisioning:
Marie Antoinette crossing the Delaware,
Greta Garbo at the head of the Huns.
Without embellishment, all you have
is snip and tuck, add a gusset.
Even as we speak, Catherine the Great
is inventing synthetics. See her
in the room to your left:
in one hand she holds the scepter;
in the other hand something is growing.
Something is taking over.
Claire Hero's poems are forthcoming in Willow Springs. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Washington University in St. Louis.
Originally published in the Summer 2002 issue of Boston Review