Gross Anatomy without a Lover or

There’s Only So Many Times You Can Palpate Your Own Sternal Angle or Take Your Own Femoral Pulse

Another Trudge Home Tuesday
Formaldehyde Fume Day
Chicago chill seeps through windows
greets me
treats me
to another welcome home

Alone –
with no lover.

You see I’ve never been one to ask for much
never been one to compile mile long wish lists
never been one to confuse God with Santa Claus
And yet
These days
I amaze myself
find my neck crane towards the heavens
as my mind wanders
whether a lover at home
is too much to ask for.

A Lover.
A reason to scrub my body raw after lab
replace fetid stench with sweet scent
for a lover’s beloved nose
A lover
A reason to eat more than a can of Progresso Minestrone
or a box of mac n cheese with fake meat at night
A lover
At home
To drive away the alone.

“Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle.”
I could totally work with that!

Lover, you’d be my anatomical muse
I’d use water colors, body paints
Magic mark you up
number each vertebra
trace each rib
You think I’d forget your inguinal ligament?
You see, this is a case of need
A case of academic necessity
With a lover at home
My mind would rewind/stop/slow motion/re-play
Lieska back to a speed
where I didn’t feel I need to BE on speed
to understand
See my mind would rewind
stop/slow motion/play again
all the details
I’d comb through lectures
sift them through a sieve
to find you the nuggets

Lover, my fingers would trace lines
on your iliac spine
I’d recall the ASIS and pubic tubercule
lie on the same plane
important for orientation
and if that got real boring
I’d create a story
about a ballerina named Lulu
in her pretty pink tutu
who injured her plantaris muscle
on a particularly difficult pirouette
or I’d grab your heel
reveal the details of the River Styx
Achilles and his ultimate vincibility

Oh Lover!
I would regale you with
stories of muscles, of tendons
sweep hands over your iliopsoas
tell you if you were a cow
that would be filet mignon
my palms would cover broad swaths over smooth back
teach you trapezius
deltoid rhomboid
I’d draw a circle
on your triangle of auscultation
to remind me where the stethoscope goes

My ear resting on your T4 dermatome
I’d listen to
I’d listen to
I’d listen to more than valves closing
more than lubs
more than dubs
I’d listen to the poetry
your heart writes every day

Because you’d think
afternoons and evenings
of cold bodies
of latex gloves and plastic bags over faces
endless scraping and scalpels
rigid joints, stiff skin
you’d think that in a moral universe
in a moral universe
the only just reward
for a cadaver cold body
would be a warm one
waiting for me at home.

Dipti Barot, Chicago, Class of 2006

Originally published in Vol. XIX: 2003