Many honor their cadaver with the designation of being their “first patient.” Yet, the term “patient” implies the receipt of some benefit in the form of treatment or improved well-being. Throughout our time together, I treated my cadaver with nothing but careful and thoughtful desecration. Just several months earlier I had promised to do no harm. Yet, as my inexperienced hands repeatedly sliced through layers of tissue, I could not help but feel like an intruder stealing something that was never meant to be mine.
Blue latex feels slick against / my hands. I grip my instrument tightly, / surprised breath escaping me as / the scalpel quickly reveals
Your body lay on the table, wrapped in shrouds / while robed students gathered around, / Your body lay on the table, skin leathery and strong, / I imagined what stories it bore, what paths it traveled along.
Gloves first, then scalpel blades gathered, / instructor books and an atlas. / What yearning and churning my mind feels, / unsure what learning to expect.
While I knew little about these patients at the beginning of the day, I always started out knowing one very important fact: they were already dead.
This house was once full of life / Layers of warmth and affection. / A fireplace, the heart of all
If gross anatomy has taught me any topics, they are the sheer beauty and capability of the human body.
Deeper than its captivating shape / lies a greater purpose.
It was not until our second semester of medical school that we started gross anatomy. Finally, I became that quintessential medical student walking home too tired to change out of my formaldehyde-tinged scrubs.