Hottentot Venus

Overheard in the heat, the air, the fruit fly’s drone
of the perfect helix, overheard in science’s repartee

of right and wrong, in the gossip of perfumed women
basking in London’s charmless sun,

Overheard in the gasps of penny sideshows, the formulas
of doctors summing up freaks in taxidermic clinics,

Overheard in the echo of cubic hallways,
in the speculum’s wand first tested on the slave woman,

Overheard in history’s senile tympanum

was a Song.

Rain irrigating fact, jars mapping name,
Recollect my throat, my organs, my bones

Cathy Park Hong, “Hottentot Venus” from Translating Mo’um. Copyright © 2002 by Cathy Park Hong. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.
Source: Translating Mo’um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002)
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