National Poetry Month: ANATOMY (II) by Rachel Mennies

Apr 5, 2014Archive, Feature

Anatomy (II)

by Rachel Mennies


Today I let a man touch me

whose hands had been inside the dead.

We make a habit of this: touching

after anatomy lecture, after convocation

with the cadavers, the basement

of fumes and rubbery cold muscle.

Together we reclaim the twin virtues of pulse

and breath, we raise them and lower them at will

like scientists.


At the table, softness and roughness

yield the same indifference from the dead.

This is mortality: a one-way valve. To commit surgeries

and later, need a body in motion,

something like the man’s own body,

motor and joint, hinge and open mouth.

“So warm,” he says, and marvels, though I’m as hot

or cold as any other creature

who could still touch him back.

This poem is from issue 39.1. You may purchase a copy here.