MANUAL LABORS

 

 

Katie Ford

Museum Piece

It is difficult to be in the museum with you now,

the shining floors abiding beneath our feet.

And the display

of prehistoric tools the earlier versions of ourselves

used to grind their corn to meal.

Dear listener, you don’t know how jealous I have become

of such images of simplicity, however much

they lie. Something in me dies a little here.

Something in me cannot abide this order.

In my city, snakes followed the flood

into the rotting houses. They moved

like completely sane machines, able to execute

their bodies perfectly. Little storms all over,

coil after coil of mimicry.

How wise for the living plagues

to leave only their effects for the archaeologists

to find—here is a life to unearth, although eaten

farther down than would have been expected.

It’s not the bowl of dust that lasts,

nor drought, nor cholera,

nor sting.

All that will be found are homes

and tools of stone. Not what buried us

into our sunlit and quick graves, but not what saved us

a moment longer, either—

will abide.