Whoever the taxidermist was,
he had a dash of God in him.
And not just because he was a creator-
he was a destroyer most of the time.
He gave an Egyptian fruit bat
a funeral fit for Pharaoh, smuggled
the last bits of skin still armed with bone
without awakening blood flow, filled
his eye sockets up with onyx
found imperfect with cataracts.
The taxidermist was one
of those gods with mercy
in his thunderbolts.
He let the bat enjoy its lifelessness
untempered for a few days
in the back of a freezer. There
was enough time to let a soul thaw out
under no pressure. There was enough time
to let frost collect in the place of dust.
He was one of those forgiving gods
that the Greeks never knew.
They would have never known to call
him Taxidermist, the arranger of skins,
but only skins that fit just right–
a reverent grandparent at a sewing machine
with the right words of advice saved
for after the final stitch was staged.
Snakes would keep shedding
their skin because growing up and out
was meant to be celebrated bigger, better,
not snug or loose fitting.
Still, he was a destroyer most of the time.
His tools were fit for making man once
he was out of Eden, scissors, forceps,
saws. Things with teeth, fangs even.
Things that bite masterpieces to life.
His hands unlike those of a father;
the weathering of labor was there, but not
the love. Instead, a sweating,
panting thing called passion.
He was passionate about making it look
as though cells were up hiring for mitosis.
Hearts moved and muscles moved
and bowels moved and skins danced.
He’d recall summers where he’d postpone
playing cops and robbers to play god.
He stepped on ants as often
as he planned them into his sidewalk chalk mansions.
He was a destroyer most of the time.
Taxidermist, he doesn’t share a grave
He occupies the place in the obituary
where Zeus might be lying cold,
awaiting the arranger of skins and his many sets of fangs.
Melina Papadopoulos is currently a senior at Baldwin Wallace University. Her work has appeared in the Roanoke Review, Booth, Jelly Bucket, among others.