Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned
by Sara Ryan
Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned (Porkbelly Press, 2018) is an investigation of the history and practice of taxidermy via hybrid text of poetry and micro-essay endnotes. In blood, bone, feather, Ryan weaves a spell to enchant the taxidermy enthusiast, museum explorer, poet—the curious. These pieces are a combination of tender & strange, delightful in their approach to the combination of grotesque & beautiful & trophy-keeping that makes up taxidermy—this practice of preservation. Ryan’s hybrid form is a deepening of the subject, the stitching of memory & curiosity & invention.
by definition, to separate bones from the joints. to pretend
the bone of a large bird grants wishes. in the bone room,
to arrange the skeleton in a jewelry display of milk.
in South Dakota, I stop at a roadside shop & ask my parents
for a set of antlers. something about the way the knobs of bone
meet the skull, still coated in fur, broken into a shard of luck.
it is on this trip that I declare I will begin my knife collection.
this is when I first begin to learn blood. later, a family of elk
outside our cabin. the antler display lying there near the window.
all at once, the disarticulated & the hot gust of living. at once,
the knife quivering in my hand, seeing the buck’s wet nose
flicker at an evergreen. at once, alive & dead & hurting.
ABOUT THE POET
Sara Ryan received her MFA from Northern Michigan University where she served as an associate poetry editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, Sonora Review, Gulf Stream, Yemassee, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain and others. She is now a PhD candidate at Texas Tech University.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rachel Allen is an illustrative graphic designer living in Los Angeles. She's a cat lady with no cats, and loves polar opposite hobbies. She's inspired by colours of decay and the deep hues of the ocean.
Caleb Jordan reviews Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned in Petrichor #8.