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Surgical Theatre


ISSUE:  Fall 2006

Then the scalpel cuts the chest so the eyes roll back.
Blood from the mouth,
from the bit tongue, and the face
tear-streaked and red. The other hand
fisted at the platform’s edge. The restrained body
 speaks.

It is snowing outside, snow
like little tranquilizers all over the yard,
snow like baby teeth, but so many of them! Such weather,
a teacher on the playground says, sweeping her hands so the boys look at it.
I have never seen
such weather! Snow on the swings, over the jungle gym,
covering the woodchips. Listen—

The body on the platform says, I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know.
It closes
its eyes. An incision, and another.
Beneath the canvas straps
it sighs and shakes its head while snow gathers on the windowsill,
sweeps against the glass,
the glass decorated over with a maze
of lies. No, lace. Ice. The body wants to rise, but can’t
and, outside, the boys on the playground want to roll in the snow,
to throw the snow into the air so it falls over them,
whitens their hair.
The teachers laugh because, November and here it comes already,
down and down, an insulated hush.

The doctor says Observe, and the incision smiles, openmouthed. Clamp,
clamp, holding out his hand. Sponge,
slopping water over the chest
to wipe it clean. The eyes roll back and back,
into the skull’s white weather,
the patient gone and dreaming now, the patient in another time,
outside,
playing in the snow—

He is playing in the snow,
among boys
who push him down and bury him—

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