The Section

In the high white room their former doctor
transforms into a sector, greedy for the cut,
interlacing gloved fingers (here is the steeple).
He looks not like a TV preacher
but like the voice of one, that thin, suspicious.
He's wrapped in green like a scalpel from the autoclave.
Indeed he radiates as if steam treated,
his metabolism just a bit faster than the rest of us.
A curtain hangs at the sternum to protect the weak
from slices we'd rather not know about.
The uterus is flipped to shore like a monstrous head,
burned at its cut edges. Oh, yes, an afterthought,
some babies were produced, the body delivered
of its stubborn feet first twins, tossed off to nurses
for their scores. The surgeon floods behind them
and sucks up wave on wave of saline,
then stuffs the sutured evidence and runs,
peels and drops bloody gloves,
presses from the room as if coming up for air.
Final stitches he leaves to his assistant,
who functions still at the level of the skin.

1997 Jessica Manke


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"Soon they'll be telling you
you can't be
Batman, Shakespeare, President, or God.
Little fat baby, going on
schoolgirl, you can be
anyone, but it won't be
easy."
- Marilyn Hacker, "To Iva, Two-and-a-Half"

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