Notes from My Apprenticeship

by Lucia Perillo
Comparative Morphology of the Vertebrates

Knowledge shipped north in white plastic buckets

To pry the lid off was to open a tomb.
We began with the shark


and worked our way up through the frog and the dove—
each month we groped the swamp like fugitives
to raise the next ghoul on the syllabus.


With a bright blade I sliced through the pelt’s wet mess
exposing the viscera inside, tinted with latex
—blue for the veins, yellow for lymph—


it made me feel childish to see how far
somebody thought I needed the body to be
dumbed down. Outside was dumbed down


by late day’s half-dark, as snowflakes dropped into
Lac Saint-Louis, paddled in silence by great northern
       pike,
their insides mangled by old hooks.


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