Edited by Dava Sobel

The body quantified: at autopsy,
it's always on its back, looks up at me

lips puckered tight, as if it would refuse
one last kiss. How much the liver weighs,

how heavy is the heart, how large the brain.
The body, hungerless, all that remains,

reminds us we are objects absent souls.
I try to animate them, nights alone,

when human company seems necessary,
the lab surrounding us imaginary

as Frankenstein's—any thing's possible.
I talk to this one like she's only ill

and might pull through, remembering my friend
who died of stomach cancer, face so drawn

and bloodless she was almost only breath.
I was among those thankful for my health

who'd visit, but not have to stay. We'd tell
her stories as she winced in pain; meanwhile,

the clock kept warning us no time was left.
How mute the opened thorax, how bereft

the empty bowl of pelvis, how I wish
our fables, in the end, were more than this.