the taxidermist can’t leave limbo

he sleeps awake with his own exhibits
it’s freezing outside he opens the curtains
is that the elephant standing in snow? he thinks

her twin-domed forehead her arched back
she should never have been stolen from the forest
or made to carry a howdah

she should never have been executed
he looks again is she kneeling?
is she blindfolded? he could never

take India out of her
the swirl of sari the sacred Ganges
still floated in her eyes the ones

he replaced with prosthetics
he should never have suspended her
between life and death

chemically altered in preparation
for the afterlife as an exhibit
but the taxidermist has children

and now must open the door
to a man cradling a dead
Chinese water deer

snowflakes on its tiny cervine teeth





Kerrin P. Sharpe has released three collections of poetry, each from Victoria University Press. Her fourth collection, louder, will be published by VUP in 2018.