Poets for Science
Global Gallery

Bodies… The Exhibition

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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.