Stone Telling

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Three Movements on Anatomy

by Alyza Taguilaso

          I. Discipline

in order to grasp
the secrets of our bodies, we must strip
sinew from bone, slice off stray clumps

of fat, peeling the tiny folds of muscle: exposing
fossa, foramen, each precise incision following sulcus, showing
the skeleton glistening white as an old star amidst the remains

of blood: dried specks like rust. Inconsequential
as the ghost floating by the steel table, witnessing
its body unmoving, obliging to being opened,

his invisible eyes widening, perplexed
as the scalpel continues its scraping, unused
to the absence of pain.

          II. Dissection

How little we know of these bodies: these people
with faces wrapped in gauze as we do our work — their skin

hard and crusted to the color of earth,
stiff and prone on steel beds, hands held in half-fists. Unyielding

as we slice out new wounds
with unpracticed knives, exposing

one muscle after another, feeling
through gloved hands the hardness

of bone, leaving the necessary markings as we make our way
through each appendage, turning the cut parts into routes

we would need to retrace, chart a map
in the roofs of our skulls, every dissected limb

floating as a loose specimen, a name:
without a face.

          III. Lesson

He named my bones as I held out my hand —

          Scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pointing
          aloud, his fingers floating

forming faces above mine, dancing —

          as though it made things easier
          to understand.

Alyza Taguilaso is in her sophomore year of medicine. Her poems have appeared in the Philippines Free Press, the Kritika Kultura Anthology of New Philippine Writing in English, and Under The Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry. She likes reading comic and pop-up books, making art, and tending to her spoiled pet cat when not slumped over a textbook in a coffee shop or running around the wards. Alyza maintains a writing journal over at Speaking In Hushed Tones.

Photography: adapted from Anatomy, by Gabriela Camerotti.