Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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On Leaving the Body to Science

The my becomes
a the, becomes
the state’s

the coroner’s,

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 pickled,
kept like larva,
like a bullet

sealed gleaming
in its chamber.
They will gather

around it,
probe and sample,

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

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.  

“On Leaving the Body to Science” from Claude Before Time and Space: Poems by Claudia Emerson (LSU Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Claudia Emerson. Reprinted with the permission of LSU Press.

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