The anatomy professor
ushered our student retinue
into the large dissection room
as light slanted through the windows
that autumn afternoon.
Bespectacled and reverent,
he called our names and assigned
a foursome to each cadaver
where we, the acolytes, would serve
the coming year at medicine’s altar.
After initial anxious moments,
we lifted up our instruments
that gleamed in halos of suspended lamps
to study muscles, nerves, vessels and bones--
the covers and bindings of their books.
Since then I’ve come to ask myself
about the missing words and sentences,
the blank pages of their days.
Where did their travels take them,
did anyone record their stories?
How many went unclaimed,
who among them willed away the last,
perhaps the only thing they owned?