Print Email

Medical Humanities

In School, We Play with Dead Bodies

Mansi Shah

December 12, 2014


My hands are lost—

They peel away yellow flesh to

Uncover silicone pouches coarsened with


(The body

Wars with the unnatural.)

Naïve to our insides, we play

With scissors, probes, and fingers

Teasing apart nerve from vein.

Write about your first cut:

The plastic bag of bowels,

The manicured nails,

The pool of formaldehyde affectionately

Known as cadaver juice, and

The unconquerable palms and soles

Are the main characters in my tale.

But my real first cut:

I am sitting at the operating table,

Hands tensed in the sterile position

(Rewriting my body’s habitus).

I watch as she slices open the back of this man’s hand

The adrenaline hits—my heart is pounding—

See this muscle?

I nod.

It isn't usually here.

She quizzes me:

What’s this?

A tendon,

I pipe back.

(I passed. Knowledge I did not know I knew.

Constructing norms of the body’s


She scrapes his bones and straightens

Them with metal rods

I snip sutures as she sews canyons into crevices

I walk outside—the air is dense, the

Sky seems deeper,

I am wide-eyed as ever

But somehow saturated with the

Knowledge of vessels laden with blood

And a little hardened—

Like the scar we drew by blade,

Slowly transforming from new to toughened.