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Hannah Kucharzak

By September 26th, 2020No Comments

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).