Composition in the museum, by Britta Benson

I visited the Ulster Museum today and a display case with a dinosaur skeleton caught my attention. I read the little text at the side explaining that it was a composite skeleton, made up of lots of individuals and that sparked something off for me. What a strange thing, I thought. You wouldn’t do that to a human skeleton, would you? Complete it with bits and bobs from other people, to ‘complete’ it. Maybe completion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Anyway, here’s my little poem for today.

Composition in the museum

We argue. When the lights go out.

Let us tell our story, not all of it,

that would be too much information

and we’re sure you haven’t got all day.

A big display case spells dinosaur.

Skeleton of Edmontosaurus annectens,

flat headed, duck billed, herbivore.

The cattle of the Cretraceus.

We are one, you’d think,

in fact, we are a deceitful many.

Wholesome remains an elusive concept,

even after all those years.

Look closely, read the spiel.

We are a compostite skeleton,

made up of several individuals,

a collective of bones,

that don’t recognize their homes.

That brings problems.

Coordination. Not helped by the clarity

of halogen bulbs on high ceilings.

We try to make sense of us all

when we should never have met,

we died in different locations

at different times.

It’s hard being a floodlit ‘we’,

a timetravelled assembly.

This is our dream.

To be taken apart. Separated, please!

Sorted into incomplete individuals.

We want our own shortcomings back.

No one should be perfected, completed,

without their say. Let us be our own lack.

Let us be ‘me’. And me. And me.

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