Thursday, 7 April 2016

Kate Clanchy: The Natural History Museum


They are glassed and boxed like childhood,
the dead creatures in their pastoral
dance: the grinning fox and pouting squirrel,
the ferrets in their stiff quadrille. Parents nod
and watch their children watch the bloodshed
always about to happen: the wee mouse 
cower, the wildcat locked in a pointless
leap. It was Bosch, I think, who painted
the Cat padding into Eden with a small beast
limp in her mouth. A child smiles. Her father
aims a camera. He shoots, and does not ask
what the half-silvered hare asserts,
stopped on the cusp of change, forever
almost escaping, kicking his heels at the dark.


From Samarkand (1999). The Natural History Museum as scenes from Hieronymus Bosch: obvious once it's made so clear.