Friday, September 11, 2015

Dermestids [The Skin Beetles]

      This is not the part I wanted to ever have to consider, or even know anything about. I didn't need details. It was hard enough having that red canvas shopping bag in the freezer for a week, hard enough taking it out and holding it there in the living room while my friends prattled drunkenly on... hard to feel that weight, to see the orange tip of his tail and a back paw poking out. Hard when M. said he'd have to skin him first,  before taking him out to the shed and dropping him into the bin with the Dermestid beetles so they could strip my companion of sixteen years down to dry bone so I could keep him around in some small physical way. It seemed less creepy than taxidermy or freeze drying, seemed easier to distance oneself than from a skeleton still sheathed in fur and flesh... I thought I could handle it, and the next day I sent M. a text to thank him for his trouble, and that's when he wrote back

No worries. I just got him in the tank 
a couple of hours ago. I had a little hiccup
in dissassembling, and his left rear leg broke. 
I'm so sorry. It slipped in my hand, 
pressure went sideways, and it being 
brittle with age...it should still reassemble 
beautifully, the rest of the skeleton looks 
flawless. Again, I'm sorry for the rookie mistake.

     and I could not hide from the physicality of death, from the fact that the body is an object, fragile and delicate, its flesh easily stripped and devoured by the smallest creature... for a moment I pictured the knife tearing the pelt I'd stroked so many thousands of times, could hear the sound the leg bone as it snapped, and as if it was covered with ravenous, cleansing insects, my skin crawled.

for Iva, 1999-2015

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