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Thursday, August 15, 2013


by Anne Harding Woodworth

I will embalm the gun,
dip it in antimony salts and mercury
to preserve the image
of a life that is no more.
I will detach the grip and the trigger.
Both have fingerprints,
which cannot be erased
thoroughly, but I will try
before I reattach the parts to the body.
History must be able
to interpret the design
and the intention
centuries from now.
I will hook the bullet, pull it
through the barrel nose,
steep it in formaldehyde
and return it to its chamber.
History must be able
to decipher the bullet’s use
as the empowering heart
of a cherished anatomy.
I will wrap the gun in linen strips,
brush them with sweet resin
to conceal the stench of death.
And I will place tokens
within the wrappings,
a sword, a toy, a raven,
a rose, a razorblade.
This is my duty:
to prepare a thing for the journey
across the river,
where it will be judged
for its deeds on earth.

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of four books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her work is widely published in literary journals and on line in the U.S. and abroad. She divides her time between the mountains of Western North Carolina and Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the poetry board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.