Hannah Kucharzak

Thought Experiment on the Examination Table

The autopsy didn’t go as planned.

The dissection didn’t yield the results

 

we were all praying for. This man holds

his bones backwards, his joints

 

pop, they release air between

the calcium. His bones resemble

 

those of birds, nearly hollow,

interior like swiss cheese or a car

 

shot up with bullets. We found

violence, we found rage. There was

 

a storage of fluid that tasted like

bile when we held the test tube

 

against our lips. We gnawed on

his hip bones to find answers.

 

We kissed off the muscle over

the course of several weeks.

 

Our gums are sore from sucking.

The coroner denied our request for

 

a glass of water. We prop our bodies up

on the examination table to fight

 

our impending collapse. We’re

exhausted. We’ve done all we could.

 

Time of death: twilight. Cause:

still unknown. What information

 

will give them satisfaction? How

this man used his hands to

 

talk? How he said hello and then

if you tell anyone, I will ruin you?

 

I’ve still got the scalpel in my hand

after years, I forget when it was

 

that he died, when they made me

begin his examination, when the other

 

women joined me in the room.

The room smells rancid but they tell us

 

we have to keep going. Yesterday

one of the women died but no one

 

gave her an autopsy, a burial.

No one removed her scrubs,

 

her hair net. No one sponged her body.

We put a blanket over her to accelerate

 

the rot. When they turn off the lights

I’ll open the man’s ribcage and ask

 

permission to crawl inside. I’ll ask

if this feels good, if there’s anything

 

special he needs from me. I’ll listen

for a response. I’ll listen forever.

 

 

 

 

Hannah Kucharzak is a poet and visual artist from Chicago. Her poems have been previously published in Pleiades, Yes Poetry, TYPO, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Kucharzak’s work is anthologized in A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017).