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  • Nancy Jo Allen


poem by Nancy Jo Allen photograph, "The Lamb," by Fabrice Poussin

We step into the exhibit—

a cavernous, dimly lit room

with sporadic lights like eyes

of gods watching from above

over these petrified corpses

that occupy room

after room with bodies

mummified to eternity.

Desert climate and peat

bogs unintentionally

preserved bones, hair, teeth,

nails, and internal organs of some.

Others have undergone elaborate

processes with desiccants.

Here, there is a reverence

both expected from patrons

and demanded by humanity

for those lying in state now

in hand-hewed sarcophagi

that tell their tales

on display under glass

And now, as I stand in this dark,

vast space under the watchful eyes

of the exhibit lights, I consider

how timeless the need is to preserve

our stories.

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