Iowa Writes

Notes from a Museum Guard

In the palace of the curious, the world
continues to perpetrate its mysteries.
Middens, pickled orchids, forests
that stretch in endless resolution around
the glass. An observer's fingers

can spin cedar carousels, green wheels.
There is a room of sleepy alphabets
where one can catch a word of the quick
dreams that stab the aged in mid-sentence.
The letters flutter to tongues as moths,

but mouths close on them like cages
after all the silence, decades of infection,
and no one remembers the cadence
of the ancient songs, their raveling.
At night I hear voices in the hall

of unbuilt machines, laughter and lament
intermittent as they look at plans to unearth
archives, portable stairs that compress
like bellows. Visitors are also specimens,
unconscious of what they display

in this place: bewilderment, elbows, noise.
An old abacus keeps track of the guests,
its calculus clicking around the ceilings
with dragonflies. Theft and trespass
are inevitable. I tell no one not to touch.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Andrew Seguin is a poet and photographer.  He is the author of the chapbook Black Anecdote and is a 2013-14 Fulbright Scholar in France.

Notes from a Museum Guard originally appeared in the Winter 2013/14 issue of The Iowa Review, Volume 43, Issue 3.

This page was first displayed
on March 11, 2015

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