Friday, September 20, 2019


Gross Anatomy

The first day of gross lab
I unzipped the canvas drape
And there was my own pale face,
Those vacant lifeless eyes.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. 
After all it was my own choice
To donate this body to science.
It’s right there on my license.
And so I went about the unseemly business;
I cut myself by my own hand,
Opened this shell for all to see.
Who ever learned anything 
Without a little self harm?
It sounds so awful but 
No one sounded the alarm.
This is all on the up and up.  
I’m here to help
I’m here to educate,
Myself, most of all.
This is the day I finally get to look inside.
I thought I knew this body so well
But it’s easy to get lost,
Easy to lose your orientation
Being in the places 
that have never felt the light.
(Shocking the number of times I had to reference the guide)
You have to label everything so you don’t forget,
Like blazing a trail
Though a forbidden wood.
Little red tipped pins plunged into:
Ulnar nerve
Accessory spleen
Inferior epigastric vein
Recurrent laryngeal
Corona mortis
Everything gets a name.  
Dissection is slow and laborious.
So many structures to identify and weigh 
Everything except for the heart
Which I’m afraid to touch
Fragile, fearful it will fall apart.
At least I can see it now
in its grayed stillness
while it pounds away invisible
inside my own living chest.

At the end of the hour
Everything returns to the hollows.
White sheet pulled over my head
My gutted corpse basted
in a shallow pool of formalin.
We latch the metal coffin
and turn all the lights off.
The time was not wasted but
I’ve seen enough
of this view from the land of the dead.
Self autopsy is usually a one time event. 
Giving yourself is a totality:
You can't hold anything back.
All the things you think you’ve hidden
always in the end get found;
a good anatomist knows his way around.
By the end of a dissection
the damaged, the broken, the aberrant 
used up form we leave 
is no longer ours to hide.
It belongs to the living instead.


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