Illustration for Muriel by Mo Fowler

Muriel works at a museum that is a house where nobody lives and that is the whole point.

The house was built years ago and her job, most importantly, is to always be changing it.

People say a lot of smart things about the house, about the ways it allows for people to look and to look and to look.

In the kitchen there is a woman screaming in the air of her baby’s face, blue paint smattered across her back and the baby’s eyes gone completely pink in the iris.

Of course there is scandal. Muriel has always paid her rent checks in scandal.

The bathroom is entirely pea soup green at the moment and one of the museum cats has taken up residence in the shower where last week Muriel piled dried alligator hands.

In the living room she has actors sit posed as a young couple in the middle of an argument over whether they can go their whole lives without sleeping with anyone else.

Scandal means a story people are actually paying attention to.

Derrida’s cat famously watched the philosopher walk around the house naked, the animal as a mirror.

Scandal means someone knows how to (be) hurt in an interesting way.

There are three cats in the museum that Muriel feeds every day but other than that is not allowed to interact with because they are employees there to do a job not to be her pet.

Muriel changes the baby’s eyes to gray.

The child sees themself in the mirror and recognizes their body-having, and then, their separation from the body in the mirror.

The museum is silent and the rooms are all mirrors.

A man who knew nothing once told her that museums are society’s history.

Muriel takes a sip from her thermos while she strolls along the racks in the basement.

She opens a drawer with four lilac-necked herons and draws out her favorite, lays it across her arm, closes the drawer with her hip and heads back up to the house.

That man would not count scandals as history.

No one lives here.

Muriel opens the heron’s eyes.

Mo Fowler is a poet and MFA candidate at UC Irvine and the author of the chapbook Sit Wild, published by Finishing Line Press. Their writing can be found in Rough Cut Press, Rust + Moth, Zone 3 Magazine, and elsewhere.