I circle the Bodies slowly— flayed and sectioned
brain to rectum, dehydrated heart, fetus enwombed,
foot’s tendons and ligaments pumped
with silicon, forever kicking a soccer ball.
So much here with which I hadn’t credited the body,
so much to worship and regret. Afraid it’s too late
to compensate for decades of neglect, I search
for tumors, deformities and rot preserved
for display with gas and ultraviolet light
to understand what has colonized, or will,
my body or bodies I love. I circle the liver
ravaged by cirrhosis that has killed
Mihai, Irina, Neculai; the burst aorta, my father’s,
clinging to the heart; my aunt’s spine arched toward earth.
In college, I passed on med-school pals’ invitation to help
prep for study the skeleton purchased on the black market.
Done macerating, it was ready for a bleaching party.
Lucky me to be a lit student, I thought,
and reap insights from trade books
and rare editions instead of trafficked bodies.
I exit through the museum gift store, more awed
than unsettled at how science and art have given death
its turn to beauty. Li-Young’s sitting in a corner,
on the floor, head slumped between knees.
I touch his shoulder and I’m about to broach
plastication as poetic practice when he murmurs,
All those bodies, M, scalpelled and vivisected,
did you see, all Chinese.