the taxidermists's lover

he talks animal all into the night
while i barefoot myself into my books.
take handfuls of ground beef 
& lay them to rest in the cast iron pan.
heat teaches away pink and red. 
he tells me i'm prone to over cooking things.
like him, i want to be sure what we swallow
remains still. his hands like dead doves. his throat,
the warden of an old piano. outside 
i stare into the woods looking for a ghost.
when i was a boy i used to make burials 
for bird skeletons i'd find up on the hill
by the old decaying housing. nothing but
their bricks. i would knit flowers
into their feathers & say an our father.
the church bells would come over me
like a flock. then, one day, i lifted a bird
i thought was dead & he came back
to life. fluttered & called & disappeared
into the trees above the railroad.
i prefer the full creatures. stay away from him
when he works on just a face. a row 
of elk & deer staring foreward like a jury.
their bodies still running away.
should it trouble me 
he is just as careful with the dead
as he is the living? climbs into me.
traces a finger from my chin 
to the center of my chest. kisses my neck.
we have so many last suppers with just our skin.
a drawer of glass eyes. real eyes
becoming no wheres in their dirt.
this week he mounts a barn owl & i have
visions of waking up to find the bird
alive again & perched on the bedpost.
my lover still asleep. me awake.
me awake opening the window 
& telling the bird to go. 

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