367 Readings


They look so real, I think, these bodies
drained of goop and dried for students
to pull apart like leather clocks.

Skin peeled away and pinned
open, the insides become sculpture.
It’s the stubble that troubles me.

Scrubbed up and blue-gloved,
I can’t resist the urge to hold my palms
before me like surgeons I’ve seen on TV.
As the heavy door swings shut
from the air pressure used
to ventilate the room, I spot

on the table a head
sawed so clean the
eyeball still
rests in its socket
like a tiny, plastic
Easter egg emptied.

Each is, or was, elderly—the body’s
return to dust already underway.
This woman’s bones so frail,
both femurs will break
when we lift her from the table.

The saw’s path offers a side-view:
coccyx tucked in, tucked
like a tail—curled like a finger relaxing…

my grandmother’s, after she pushed
a playing card my way,
all the red diamonds
aligned with her hand.

Posted 12/31/11
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