#161 Expiration Date

by Anthony Cote

I’m in the Boston Museum of Science looking at a body laying in a glass cube. He was the color of foreign dust and had the posture of a tree root. Contorted. Relaxed. I’m twelve years old and I’m here to learn. This person was the centerpiece of the room and I got in close.

I’m imagining a man wearing a pith helmet shoveling sand in the desert in the 1920’s, hitting the big toe of a body, reaching down with two blistered hands, extracting. What is the expiration date of a grave? What is the statute of limitations on exhibiting a body; dead tissue with fingers, toes, teeth? This is someone’s son, friend, lover, hard worker. A cook, a drunk, tool maker, comedian, an exhibit being carted around the world as a prop.

The orbs under the eyelids are cloth, or maybe two onions, but the teeth are real. A flash of white bone. They are imperfect and long and fit together into a closed mouthed scream that’s been going on for thousands of years. Words echoed off of those teeth. If this man had anything to say now it would bounce back at them in the glass cube and all we’d hear would be desiccated Sumerian curses, cries for their family, their mother. He would ask me what I’m learning.

1 comment:

Violet Hill said...

This is an interesting story. It also sends a message on how we should value the lives of our ancestors.