In The Songbird Laboratory
White-latexed fingers extract the brain,
freeze it in dry ice, and slice it almond-thin.
As soon as the beak opens and the song
rushes forth, they crack the skull’s shell,
fish out the lumped prize of proteins.
They must stop the hot humming
blood to map its melody. The canary
sings and dies, sings and dies.
Notes are taken, pitches graphed.
The feathered throat unjeweled.
Tighten the strings, friend. Tune
the wires against glove.
What darkness prompts the chime,
what we will do to know.
Originally appeared in Water-Stone Review, 2008