Still Life

by Diane Ackerman

The bullet has almost entered the brain:
I can feel it sprint down the gun barrel,
rolling each bevel round like a hoop
on a pigslide of calibrated steel and oil.
Now it whistles free and aloft
in that ice-cold millimetre of air,
then boils as the first layer of skin
shales off like ragged leaves of soap.
The trigger’s omnipresent click
makes triggers all over the body fire.
Now it tunnels through palisades,
veins, arteries, white corpuscles
red and battered as swollen ghosts,
cuts the struts on a glacial bone
jutting out like the leg of a single flamingo,
feints and draws in close for the kill,
egged on by a mouse-gray parliament of cells.

Last updated April 01, 2023