Lifting the formalin veil
To gaze at your eyes-closed face
Now dried and leathery,
I lift the grate-like lid of
Sawed off ribs and sternum
To reveal your thoracic treasure chest
Of preserved vital organs.
Lungs heavy sponges with blackened stains
Of too many cigarettes and too much smog
Your heart a fist of dull brick thickness
Cold and bloodless
Broken apart to reveal only
An empty atrium.
Behind the clipped up drape,
Your respirations controlled
With bag collapsing and ballooning, in and out,
Chest rising and falling synchronous
We breathe together as my gloved hand reaches deep
Into your glistening pleura, your lung brushing
My hand with each feather touch inflation.
I gently move it aside to reveal a vibrant beating
Of cardiac muscle, constant, steady
Contractions, filling, emptying,
Right side, left side, a pulsing udder of blood,
Warm dynamic continuous
Rhythmic flow of life.
From beneath your eyelids,
You focus only on the ground,
The dust, the stains,
The floor beneath that seems to give way,
And not look up and consider
Telling the truth of the emptiness you feel
The raw hungry gaping wounds
Of loss and loneliness,
Of desperate longing
And feeling no connection, no future, no hope,
Suffering in singular sadness
An unrelieved, unfulfilled, unresponsive
Cloud shadow passes briefly underfoot,
Once trod upon, then unveiled, revealing sun
To enwrap and envelope
Skin and sinew, body and soul,
Soon sated, feasting in communion
With family and friends,
Lifted to reach past self
To greet the glory beyond the darkness,
Where a stopped heart ignites anew,
Once poured out and spilled
Broken, desolate, deserted.
Now beating, breathing, pulsating
Alive and restored
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