The First Cut is the Deepest

I begin with the beginning, which is
contrary to popular belief, not the
cold body storage, but the hot
body repository: the locker room,
a stifling, washed-out, humanized
formaldehyde greets the nose.
Breathing, bending, grunting, naked
limbs, torsos, feet flail to put on
wadded-up, tossed about
scrubs in preparation for lab.
Hair securely pinned back, closed toed
shoes tied, and glasses on
(no death-harkening eye infections for me),
we can now enter cold storage.
Formaldehyde, circulated air
formaldehyde, and a faint whiff
of food rush past the pressurized doors.
Long walk down an open couloir of bodies,
presenting limbs, heads, torsos
partially dissected for different students,
in different schools,
with different aims and purposes.
Supplies checked and rechecked:
Grants, Netters, forceps, scalpels,
blade replacements, scissors,
unknown and unnamed metal
tags researched DOB & COD
Bag unzipped, lying supine,
a frozen scream mouth agasp, an endless plea.
Hug him, move him, don’t bend him or
break him, move him so the back presents.
Marbled flesh yellow orange red magenta
A whiff of the improperly preserved.
What’s this?
Our man, our cadaver, our dedicated
donation to science should not share
the same thin red jellies as you and me.
Slip of the knife, spurt trickle run
gush of clotted, corroded fresh-ish blood.
Not mine, the cadaver’s.
Unsafe biomedical hazard
contamination liability lawsuit
Bag him and get a NEW body.

Sophie Hermann, Class of 2011