Step this way, sir. Just here you may see
a child’s head so full of water
that the world’s alarms were quite drowned out.
And here a heart that would never have survived
the traffic of love. Over there a liver
which maps the empire of the wily spirochaete.
There is much to observe so let us proceed
through the upper galleries; our house
has many mansions. You feel queasy, sir?
Some gentlemen who call declare their satisfaction
that here – if nowhere else – the unredeemed,
the prevatio boni, is safely imprisoned
in glass and alcohol. But these are my wards,
my charges; they give little trouble. Patiently
they serve our diligent study, which seeks to grasp
how Nature’s lapses are Nature still.
I cherish them, sir, against the day
when the halt and the maimed shall be made fleet.
But if you find these shelves of evil tedious to bear,
why, there’s the exit. Thank you again for your interest.
Prevatio boni — a theological term, considered as an absence of the good
About this poem
The persona of this poem is entirely fictional, and is in no sense modelled on Mr. Andrew Connell, the Collection Manager, who most kindly introduced me to the museum and pointed out some of its features.