The Museum Of Extinct Animals is many things. It is a labyrinth of dusty secrets. It is a fortress of fallen totems from another time. It is a symposium of ghosts. The Museum Of Extinct Animals is a cathedral-sized capsule containing stuffed creatures of rare distinction. Mythical creatures, post-extinction.
I own an animal that will live longer than anyone I know. She will outlive the next generation and the generation after that. When you buy a tortoise, no one tells you how much you will think about death. But when you have something living in your house that will outlive you by a century, mortality hangs in the air.
The tapir, like all odd-toed ungulates, has an exceptionally large penis. I have seen it with my own eyes. I can never un-see it. I can never erase the weighty mental image, but I can offload it onto others. And I do so often. I tell my friends and my mum and the postman about it.
Dear Godzilla, It’s been such a long time.
Do you remember when you told me there were special fires raging at the bottom of the Mariana Trench? I said, how can I believe you? Then you drew yourself inward and by the end of the evening it was the world’s biggest deal to get a full sentence out of you. You mustn’t be so sensitive.
London has got to be one of the loneliest cities in the world. For all its diversity and cultural heft, and despite 8.5m inhabitants crowding its boroughs, its tendency toward detachment is pervasive. New Yorkers are zealously friendly. Parisians, while cranky, communicate with passion. Londoners like to pretend everyone else simply does not exist.
“I can help you. Come to mine for faith healing on Saturday,” urged Nikki van der Zyl as she clasped my hand. I was interviewing her about life as the voice of Ursula Andress (and six other Bond girls) at the time and was unsure how we had gotten so off topic.
An invisible rope, hooked around my neck, pulls me along when I’m sleep deprived. I let somebody in on this secret, performing a mime to illustrate the dimensions, and am about to confess that my thoughts are preoccupied with death, anxiety and self-loathing, but she is already half-heartedly pretending to send a text. The number of syllables in the word insomnia is up for debate.
Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, water was something that came out of the faucet to quench his thirst after a bicycle ride down the seemingly endless, flat gravel roads, sweat soaking through his shirt. It was something slopping out of the dog’s bowl as she lapped it up with her long wet tongue.
The outdoor swimming pool was in the shape of a wonky figure of eight. A bridge crossed its middle. They said it was the biggest pool in Europe. The concrete border was patterned with circles in different sizes. If you fell, the surface was hard and unforgiving. Each bulb of the pool was pinned with two sets of diving boards; four and five boards layered on top of one another.
One day, after my father’s death, I was in my parents’ house looking through his bookshelves. I thought about powdering the books for fingerprints so I’d have something left. I still think about that sometimes. What difference would it make to have a copy of fingerprints made by fingers that no longer exist? Those fingers were burned, and now they are dust.