Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Claudia Emerson

ON LEAVING THE BODY TO SCIENCE

ON LEAVING THE BODY TO SCIENCE

ON LEAVING THE BODY TO SCIENCE

The my becomes
             a the, becomes
                          the state’s

the coroner’s,
             a law’s, something
                          assignable,

by me, alone,
             though it will not
                           be the I

I am on
             leaving it, no
                           longer to be

designated human or
             corpse: cadaver
                          it will be,

nameless patient
             stored in
                          the deep hold

of the hospital
              as in the storage
                          of a ghost ship

run aground –
             the secret in it
                          that will,

perhaps, stir again
             the wind that
                          failed. It

will be preserved,
             kept like larva,
                          like a bullet

sealed gleaming
             in its chamber.
                         They will gather

around it,
             probe and sample,
                          argue – then

return it
             to its between-
                          world, remove

their aprons
             and gloves
                           and stroll, some evenings,

a city block
             for a beer,
                          a glass of chilled

white wine. Even there, they
             will continue
                          to speak of it,

what they
             glean from beneath
                          the narrative

of scars, surgical
             cavities, the
                          wondrous

mess it became
             before I left it
                          to them

with what’s
             left of me, this
                         name, a signature,

a neatened
             suture, perfect, this
                          last, selfish stitch.
Close

ON LEAVING THE BODY TO SCIENCE

The my becomes
             a the, becomes
                          the state’s

the coroner’s,
             a law’s, something
                          assignable,

by me, alone,
             though it will not
                           be the I

I am on
             leaving it, no
                           longer to be

designated human or
             corpse: cadaver
                          it will be,

nameless patient
             stored in
                          the deep hold

of the hospital
              as in the storage
                          of a ghost ship

run aground –
             the secret in it
                          that will,

perhaps, stir again
             the wind that
                          failed. It

will be preserved,
             kept like larva,
                          like a bullet

sealed gleaming
             in its chamber.
                         They will gather

around it,
             probe and sample,
                          argue – then

return it
             to its between-
                          world, remove

their aprons
             and gloves
                           and stroll, some evenings,

a city block
             for a beer,
                          a glass of chilled

white wine. Even there, they
             will continue
                          to speak of it,

what they
             glean from beneath
                          the narrative

of scars, surgical
             cavities, the
                          wondrous

mess it became
             before I left it
                          to them

with what’s
             left of me, this
                         name, a signature,

a neatened
             suture, perfect, this
                          last, selfish stitch.

ON LEAVING THE BODY TO SCIENCE

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère