On Leaving the Body to Science

The my becomes

a the, becomes
the state's


the coroner's,
a law's, something
assignable,


by me, alone,
though it will not
be the I


I am on
leaving it, no
longer to be


designated human or
corpse: cadaver
it will be,


nameless patient
stored in
the deep hold


of the hospital
as in the storage
of a ghost ship


run aground —
the secret in it
that will,


perhaps, stir again
the wind that
failed. It


will be preserved,
kept like larva,
like a bullet


sealed gleaming
in its chamber.
They will gather


around it,
probe and sample,
argue — then


return it
to its between-
world, remove


their aprons
and gloves
and stroll, some evenings,


a city block
for a beer,
a glass of chilled


white wine. Even there, they
will continue
to speak of it,


what they
glean from beneath
the narrative


of scars, surgical
cavities, the
wondrous


mess it became
before I left it
to them


with what's
left of me, this
name, a signature,


a neatened
suture, perfect, this
last, selfish stitch.

by Claudia Emerson

Other poems of EMERSON (45)

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