Dean, School of Sciences and Mathematics, Mississippi College

The Cadaver Hand

my pentecostal friends speak in tongues

but only when the spirit visits
I speak in scalpels and rat toothed tweezers
to this body
whose spirit left him
quick as quails
out of the thicket
after the shotgun blast

the assignment simply says:
“hand dissection”
any hand will do
the human atlas will tell you
all that you need to know

but what concordance is there
between dead bone
and the coils of a man’s life – anyway
as if smoke could be nailed to wood
or gamboling thrushes on wind
could explain war among nations

the atlas does not mention
the wedding band
on his fourth digit
or the nimbus faced bride who slipped it on
in the hopes that life with him
would round Eden’s green lush
and no bramble vine dare grow
or why – now
she still calls out his name
at night
when the cat jumps on the bed

it does not explain
the dirt under his finger nails
from the snapdragons he planted
on his daughter’s grave
or the tight fist he made
as he cursed
the palliative whispers of angels
the morning he buried her

the atlas does not say
that I should apologize
to this man
for being an accidental stranger
fumbling
through the sticky residue
of his evaporated life

although something tells me
that I should

-Stan A. Baldwin-

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