THE HEAD BLOCK

 In anatomy lab today we are faced 

 With the aftermath of a revolution. 

 The French, in one sense. Heads 

 Of cadavers severed and displaced 

 From bodies onto wooden blocks. 

 The usual coup of medical school. 

 Now we learn the cranial nerves, 

 And meanwhile set aside the box 

 Of ideas about the mind inside 

 The brain encased in skull behind 

 Her eyes, thankfully still cloaked 

 By a cap of cheesecloth limply tied. 

 They cut off her head but not mine, 

 And mine is experiencing the physics 

 Of a feeling about dying. It is gravity 

 Circling into the reality of this resign 

 From humankind to organic matter. 

 She is gone despite the formaldehyde 

 Fixing her husk like a bug in amber. 

 To the students buzzing with chatter 

 She is a history of memories we 

 Will never remember. This is messy. 

 The mind-body dichotomy is false- 

 Ish. Give me a moment to notice 

 Her lips are chapped. Do you think 

 That her husband kept her lipsticks? 

 Did she have a husband? A daughter 

 She offered her shades of pink? 

 My questions swell to fill the sac 

 We zip her into at the end of class. 

 It is customary to let them dissipate 

 Instead of ask, but I turn back 

 Or rather, I am pulled by a new force. 

 If it is rebellion to grieve, I will revolt. 

 The tragedy would be twice if I ceded 

 My core in the course of this course. 

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© 2019 by Elizabeth H. Beam