Most of a Bear
for Emily Graslie, The Brain Scoop
You find a carcass, say a wolf, and cut.
It’s open season. Razor through the skin
And fascia, pull from the bone the flesh
That once connected animal with air.
Consider the scattered skeleton of a bear
You searched for after the head was brought
To your attention. The vertebrae you knew
Were pitted with arthritis.
Each rib scrubbed with Dawn and a dish brush,
Then scalded white with hydrogen peroxide.
Science gets your hands in the guts,
Unpuzzles piece by piece the body
And orchestrates a reconstruction
Of the varied world. Despite such facts:
Flathead Lake will never flow
Again with the fish of 1910.
And this is only most of a bear
Preserved and recollected.
The artifact evolving into art.
Not even bones, you know, should go to waste.
Jason Gray is the author of Photographing Eden (Ohio UP, 2009), winner of the Hollis Summers Prize, and two chapbooks, How to Paint the Savior Dead (Kent State UP, 2007) and Adam & Eve Go to the Zoo (Dream Horse, 2003). His poems and reviews have been featured in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is an associate editor for AWP and coedits the online journal, Unsplendid.