From “Gnomus”

By Philip Metres

Returning from Amsterdam, when the ship’s supply of beer ran out, Russian sailors stumbled upon Tsar Peter the Great’s wunderkammern, his wonder cabinet of glass-jarred curiosities: a fetus dressed in lace; a four-legged rooster; botanical landscapes built from plants and lungs; a two headed-sheep; a vial of a sleeping child, its skull removed; a handkerchief into which a skeleton “cried,” made of brain tissue; a severed arm, and held in its hand, a heart; a tiny head cradled in the open jaws of a gecko—all suspended in alcohol. Who started the rumor, we don’t know—that when they tipped the glasses to their mouths to slake their impossible thirst, the sailors must have closed their eyes—lips kissing the sweet wet flesh.