The Curse of Knowledge

Jon Lee

Image of Jon Lee

Jon Lee

The Curse of Knowledge was selected as part of MSU Library Short Edition's call for submissions on the theme of "Home," in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibition "Where We Dwell." Jon D. Lee is the author of four books, including IN/DESIDERATO and An Epidemic of Rumors: How Stories Shape Our Perceptions of Disease. His poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlantic, Sugar House Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Writer's Chronicle, One, The Laurel Review, and The Inflectionist Review. He has an MFA in Poetry from Lesley University, and a PhD in Folklore. Lee teaches at Suffolk University.

surfaced from basin slough stagnant with blockage / high water content begets moss / slows vegetal decay / results in acidified void devoid of minerals and oxygen / idyllic condition for sphagnum to grow die rot / release carbohydrate polymer sphagnan / only this: likely not last // body dyed / brown stained as oversteeped tea but remarkably preserved: / trimmed nails close-cropped hair eyes closed as in sleep despite plaited leather thong tight around neck / line high on throat indicative of hanging / not choking / no visible puncture marks abrasions tattoos scars except / right amputated hallux // bones: rubber flexible / sphagnan binds nitrogen halts bacterial proliferation but leaches calcium / soft tissue preserved: intestines brain heart lungs / lifelike if desiccated // radiocarbon dated age of 2,300 years / possible sacrifice murder god-offering suicide / unclear whether preservation was intended or accidental but presence elsewhere of waxy foodstuffs made from dairy fat meat indicates rudimentary knowledge of preservation methods // calm compared to some: / one forced to his knees garroted throat slit neck broken skull smashed / thrown in and left to drown / though opinions differ // such pretty eyelashes / teeth // still the half-seen rictus of the anthropocene / so often it comes to this:

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