Karl Kirchwey

Edinburgh University Anatomical Collection
May 23, 2020 Kirchwey Karl

Edinburgh University Anatomical Collection
 
 
Take shelter awhile from mortality
under a Perspex cast
of the spreading bronchial tree,
 
or the human lungs in Marco Resin,
passages ramifying
and delicate as a sea-fan,
 
while in a nearby display case,
that supine twist of chaw
or beef jerky with a penis
 
looking like something the glacier
decided to give back
to global warming after
 
five thousand years is the work
of Alexander Monro Secundus,
who with a virtuoso technique
 
injected the lymph vessels with mercury
then lacquered the whole thing.
Crystal lights twinkle in the cavity
 
of the thorax that is by now
sadly afflicted with woodworm.
The mediocre son, the third Monro,
 
given the corpse to dissect
of a celebrated murderer,
unfortunately lacked
 
a necessary imagination,
and could think of nothing
better to do than
 
write in the stuttering blood
a letter to no one in particular
saying I took it from his head.

Karl Kirchwey’s most recent book is Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems. He teaches at Boston University, where he is Associate Dean of Faculty for the Humanities. He is editing a new anthology, Poems of Healing, for the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series.