Python skin in basement gets new home

Boulder poet Edward Dorn kept gift from fellow poet around house

| Jan 28, 2010


Tale of the Tape: Dr. Harvey Bialy, Executrix of the Edward Merton Dorn literary estate, Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, and Denver Museum of Natural History Educational Collections Manager Rich Busch hold the python hide before its remaining power is delivered to the people. (Photo by Ezra Bialy)

Former Boulder poet and scholar of the American West Edward Dorn maintained a 30-plus-year friendship with fellow poet, visual artist and molecular biologist, Harvey Bialy. In 1978, Dorn and his family received a potentially dangerous gift from the Bialy family, on a sabbatical from the University of Ile-Ife in Western Nigeria: a 15-foot-long rock python skin.

What does a poet do with a python skin suited for three pairs of $1,000 boots and a vest? Dorn kept it in a dark corner of his basement. Over 30 years the python hide emanated, like some secret power, a palpable force in the Dorn home.

Bialy, recently returned from 14 years as an expatriate in Cuernavaca, Mexico, asked Jenny what ever became of the skin. He and Jenny Dorn unfurled it in my presence on Jan. 22. Its multicolored dream-coat quality seemed just what Colorado needed during the latest economic downturn. Bialy and the Dorn estate instantly bequeathed the snake to the Denver Museum of Natural History in memory of Ed.