Heather Bowlan

Ode to Taxidermy

Once this was a stag.
Begin with the ruler, the tape

measure. The slow incisions,
the skull saved for later. Once

this was a fox. Smoke the fur,
press it between books until it dries

to a smooth sheen. Once this was
a pheasant, now it is a pheasant

never caught. Desk fans flutter
the feathers into just–landing.

Next the wire, extend it inside
and around so life coils, a bloodless

pulse behind the glass. The mouse
and its paper–skin. The bear’s jaws propped

always open.

Heather Bowlan's writing has appeared in New Ohio Review, Nashville Review, Day One, the Ploughshares blog, and elsewhere. She serves as the Chapbook Editor for BOAAT Press and Assistant Poetry Editor for Raleigh Review.