1. A Display of Skulls
The Mütter Museum, 2001
Under glass the trepan twists
an optical illusion. I imagine
the forcep clamps gaining their uneasy purchase
on the shaven dome, the turn
of the augur on the skin
as if that sack of wine were corked.
In 1848 the foreman Phineas Gage
blew a tamping iron with dynamite
through the boulder of his head
under the cheekbone, out the scalp.
The metal lay like a stiff red eel
more than ten metres away,
the skull a globe and here the axis.
Above the trepan's cabinet:
a bookcase of skulls. I am illiterate
to read the drillmarks: a black key
etched above an eye socket;
a shadow's fist plunged
in and in towards the brainless space.