Saturday Apr 13

Spriggs Headshot Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer and multidisciplinary artist from Kentucky. An Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University, Bianca is the author of five collections of poems, most recently Black Mermaid (Argus House Press, 2018), and the co-editor of three poetry anthologies, most recently Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian Poets (University of Kentucky Press, 2018).

Black Venus: A Found Poem

But amid the fetus skeletons and the human jawbones, the frightful, archaic tools and the colorful apothecary jars, there is a greater treasure. Transy’s Monroe Moosnick Museum houses a unique medical object: the nation’s only surviving Medical Venus.
                                                                                            —Robert Faulk, Gross America (2012)

Someone uncovers me in an attic in a box. At first, I frighten them with the intensity of my gaze, my glassy eyes transfix from a knot of striated muscle. I have no skin. I have no hair. I’m all half-full womb and liver and stare. Filleted open, my torso gapes, organs engorged. I was born this way, widened to reveal layer upon layer—an experiment. And although I am in a bad way, they still want me. I know I am ghastly—even to myself. A shabby doll. Once, I was charming and arresting—a woman’s woman. Perfection incarnate, bedecked in blushing wax and resin and pearls, my human hair winding down around my waist. They drag me out anyway. Brush off the cobwebs and blow away the dust. I am rigid and scorched, smoke damaged. I am ashamed, for although I am rare, my glass coffin is long gone. No way to protect what’s left of me from their eyes and hands. I mourn myself—I used to be a marvel of my kind. A hand runs down what’s left of my cunt to carry me away. My limbs, once lithe, had been arranged contrapposto—aping desire. My arms are gone now as well as everything below the thigh. I am reborn in the dim light of a basement storage room—a museum. I try to recall—when was I ever anything but captivating? It is fitting that they should tilt me on my side, my head at a jagged angle, my mouth severe and gaping—I lay still as I always have, this time on a table in front of a curio cabinet across from the skeleton of a stillborn infant that grins beneath a bell jar. This is it. My own personal nadir. The room is a mausoleum, but the living have no clue. One day, I will remember my name.