It opened like a sandwich, insides yellow as old mayonaise,
edges worn smooth from dirt and grease on the hands
of children who, passing between dark-lit dioramas,
stopped to marvel at such a giant thing. The sign said
it was a clam, but it looked more like something
from a garden languishing in that scant museum light, yearning
craving water and sun. A bird bath for geese or swans.
Unimaginable it had ever been alive, home to the raw
muscle we knew as clam from one-week vacations
with our parents at the shore. That salty tongue we would eat
only if it were served to us at Howard Johnson's on a bun.
Singular object elevated in memory from that palace
of rare and ancient artifact: the varnished skeleton artifacts?
of a dinosaur dumbly posed in the middle of the Hall
of Dinosaurs, a withered mummy,
a few stuffed birds,
a second-floor glass case where a tiger attacked
a desert nomad where life had once seethed.
of the poem. Colin Butgereit, age 20
Like the human souls
this. Amy Fleming, age 17
we learned floated somewhere unseen without bodies, waiting
for judgment day when water would again overtake the land,
bodies rise from graves, the whisps of souls pour back
into their containers. But this creature had no soul, was a crude
assemblage of digestive tract and reproductive organs
attached to a massive foot. Souless Mollusk, large as us.