an experiment on a bird in an air pump (1768)

A flicker reveals
their horror, their wonder,
small white faces aglow in the oppressive shadow
as the scientist begins his drawing-room experiment.
A charlatan,
a philosopher,
a magician,
a god,
his hands hold life and death in their balance.
Innocence turns its face
while science awaits the spectacle of
the little dove, emissary of peace, the holy spirit
captured in a glass prison for its voyeuristic pleasure.
With each clench of his fist, he steals another breath
from the fragile, feathered form.
What does his gaze direct you to watch –
a kind of magic or a callow death
as curiosity becomes the end of innocence.

An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump, Joseph Wright of Derby

By Felicity

art, fiction, poems, reading, flights of fancy

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