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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