Beth Roberts




Music at first when out of the dim room a little light
not light, music
in geometric shards, music motes

gather like a hand lying in church, a hand on
beings with
silky hair over an orb or globe, small words

heads offering something, dot of salt disappearing, and
through the ticking of a seam

places, as a filtered melody in a moment in a giant life also                     
is momentous,
a memory



Goers stop at the skull and search its mind:
inverse parabola at the crown housing its only thought,

brow cool for a palm, parietal and temporal,
teeth in a grit—material and portal for their own one thought,

especially those orbits of the eyes, absence where paired
answers swirl, and hollow nose.



Then they warmed each other. Now is like
then, except without any others. Sometimes

words enter the museum windows where light curls.
Sometimes the words gather in memory remains

and make them behave in a way. Then they feel like
a silky umbilical stream. They feel like fingerprints.

They smell like a small damp head.
They smell like pith. They taste like salt.

They look like history upon introduction.
They sound like the last thing the skull said.




Sometimes a child in the museum stops and stares.


The skull does nothing but stare.


It's delightful.





One night as I was falling asleep during a documentary on serial killers, I caught something about a family whose young daughter had disappeared, and years later her skeleton was discovered, or maybe only the skull, as that’s what they buried along with some stuffed animals. Imagine giving a stuffed animal to a skull. It seemed right. So I wanted to give a skull some hints at remembrance. Since music was my own first memory, it seemed right to begin there. I am not sure why the museum. Perhaps because a skull’s memories would need to be transmitted through something not a mind or a brain, yet still complexly layered, vaulted, storied and even peopled.