An Elementary Treatise on Human Anatomy

1 August 2016

After, Joseph Leidy

1.

The string is a catalyst not
a specific set of instructions.

Of afterlives, she has
empirical evidence,
in spades.

Still it defies you,
this canopy of velocity.

Nothing for it but to endure
newfangled brocade deliriums.

Instincts on rampage
balk at investigation.

Cellular memory recoils.
Brackets repress
a more mysterious lacuna.

Bruises bloom under coltish grace.
We might be vicious

down here
the shock stays with you.

Altars float all around her
wilderness, waste.


2.

Sunburned girls gone horse mad—
seized with mirror fever.

It only takes the once.
These days,

she drinks laudanum
laced with charcoal.

To obliterate an upbringing
a sedative of false composure.

Leave the door ajar,
hips tilted toward

widening aisles and bed
dust wound down.

The patient cuts her hair
in the waning moon.

She is permitted to shower
once per week. Under guard.

Miasmal fashions cut
for the asylum panorama.

Such whorish artifice;
horizontally alarmed but

demurely absent sentiment.

Come home, her dialect mutation calls.


3.

In his experiments,
a fine wire was made

to encircle the shaft of bone.
Seemingly, in its interior,

a hollow columnar condition. Lost
thumb that cuts into an absent palm.

After the water cure only
blood attar dulls the fits.

She’ll be in the sunroom
dressed for the weather

arranging seating charts
for the dead letter dance.

The only party worth
attending is a funeral.

I know too well the cost
of that remedy’s call

bright placebo ghosts
(scarlet and subaltern)
lost to verso charms.

Will you remember me
after the wintering sieve?

In a diversity of baths
wet dressed penitents

salute their redeemer
in three-part harmony.

Such reverence breeds
only dulcet curiosity.

Enter as a bullet
sequestered in blind faith.

Leave her floral marginalia—

just another face
for to be burnished in.

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