3rd Place Poem 

The Mütter Museum

The Mütter Museum

Louisa Flynn-Goodlett grew up in Nashville, graduated last spring from the Interlochen Center for the Arts (a boarding school in Michigan) where she focused on creative writing, and is currently a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

Poetry judge Diann Blakely writes: “An ode to childhood’s casual, mostly loving tortures of siblings and self, 'The Mütter Museum’ moves to an ending that is at once a surprise and inevitable, giving us along the way a rich and strange catalog of images.”

There, in a glass case, some doctor has saved

every object he retrieved from inside

a stomach: nails, change, dentures, a perfect

attendance pin. I used to swallow bugs,

cicadas by the dozen, ants off trees,

even a red wasp who stung the insides

of my cheeks into welts. My brother ate

the contents of his piggy bank, mostly

pennies, because I dared him. We never

told; he says his breath still tastes of metal.

This collection lies in rows on the black

velvet, and my brother and I have paused

between the Soap Woman and the twins joined

at the skull. Together, we have eaten

erasers off pencils, consumed whole tubs

of playdough, hoarded boxes of delicate

yellow chalk. Sometimes, we still wake, craving

the impossible: jars of blue ink,

plastic knives, or the broom’s sweet bristles.

But, we force ourselves back to dreams, lock our

jaws shut, try to ignore the urge that pounds

in our throats, that wants to taste everything;

we would eat ourselves, if we could.

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