Lisa Rosinsky


Lisa Rosinsky is the 2016-2017 Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence. Her poetry appears in Measure, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, Iron Horse Literary Review, and various other journals. She holds a BA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and is finishing her MFA in creative writing from Boston University. Her first novel, Inevitable & Only, will be published by Boyds Mills Press in Fall 2017. A Maryland native, she is thrilled to have this poem included in the Baltimore Review.


That Dark Center

At the end of the exhibit—past the pair
of stuffed cheetahs in mid-leap,
amputees jogging across a screen

on carbon-fiber legs in thirty-
second loops, past the fluttering edge
of the manta ray, dolphin flippers

with their ghosts of finger-bones—she lurks
beneath carnelian spotlights.
Another casting of the skull sits at ground-

level; I peer through it from behind,
standing where thick neck muscle
would’ve swiveled, find myself

face-to-face with a boy staring back at me
through stalagmite teeth. For a moment
I could swear it’s you, decades younger,

and the wanting hits me hard:
to carry, curled inside me… He races off toward
footprints spaced to show

the Rex’s thirty-foot stride,
the full set of bones, suspended,
xylophone tail aloft. I try to picture

the chaos of this beast being
mounted, the size of the eggs that slid
out of her into a mud nest. Eyeballs

big as my fist, twitching behind
leather lids, sky darkening. Nothing here
tells us we must change, only that we have

so little time. That pelvic bone
hanging like an unswung hammer.

The title for ‘That Dark Center’ is taken from a line in Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’—‘that dark center where procreation flared.’ The scene in this poem comes from a visit with my husband to an exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science called ‘Animals: Machines in Motion,’ where we saw 42-foot-long Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found. Interestingly, while researching this poem, I discovered that scientists have no way of determining the sex of a dinosaur from its bones.