Cadaver This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 13, 2009
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Cadaver

Aching bones
sticking out at odd angles,
Ripped red, grey, and white,
Decaying muscle like fiber,
Like wires.
Fat like heavy, yellow, Styrofoam.
Lungs like tires,
Hearts like giant, puffy mushrooms.
Skin like clay and paint.
Hair like string.

Here is humanity, revealed,
With skin just on the edges of fingers
moving back towards hands
with grey, decaying muscle giving way
to thick, white, protruding bone,
Then on and on connecting down the arm like strings on a guitar
reaching down until they are all screwed in at the elbow.
A wrist 2 inches wide,
An ulna 11 inches long.
It’s made of bits and pieces,
Hard and soft and tough.
It’s malleable, ductile, plastic, fine,
The perfect tool for grabbing, holding,
Moving, letting go.
Each bone a metal bar
each joint a well-fitted piece of bodily machinery.
Here is humanity;

Complex,
Compact,
Practical,
Rotting on a metal table
with pink paint peeling off its long nails,
and bacteria feeding off its skin, muscle, bone, and fat.
It is so simple, so measurable, so explainable, so believable, so real, and yet,
How can I explain the feeling of holding something soft and warm
and then of holding that same something
rigid and cold.

It should be that simple,
A sensation of warm or cool, soft or hard,
Yet it’s the difference between contentment, and distress.

But what is far more difficult to express,
is the way the bone
resembles beef in a stew
or chicken on a plate
or lamb in a pot.

I have seen a bull,
Towering above me with table-top back and wide, burly chest
covered in gleaming, black hide.
I have seen a chicken with feathers the color of the rainbow
rolling in the dirt kicking soft, black earth into the air to clean itself.
I have seen a newborn lamb,
Laying on the hay beneath a heat lamp,
Wet, white body against the dry yellow and brown stalks,
With its breath rising like smoke in the frigid winter air.

And I too have felt those self-same bones and muscles;
Pounded, cut, torn,
By my own hands.
Only to find that my flesh is as theirs,
Equally real and tangible,
Equally fathomable, whether warm or cool,
It is;

Definable,
Spoilable,
Soft,
Tough,
Fat,
Thin,

And producing and breaking
just as a ewe in the pasture
birthing her lamb in the snow
onto the ground that’s frozen solid.
Gooey fluid like melted sugar pours out with blood
onto the cold, hard ground that will take away all her strength forever,
and almost, almost all that of her kid*.

We are all bone, fiber, skin, and ganglia,
What is there that remains unexplained?

*intentional





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