Anatomy Lab Romance

You are heavier than I expected,
and more somber.  Cradled in my hands,
the color of dried-out play dough,
you are silent, submissive
after years and years of electrified hum.

I hold your two halves apart, then nestle
them together; trace your deep
and thoughtful grooves; and brush
with a gloved fingertip the many milky branches
of your arbor vitae with a smile.

This is where you remembered how
to ride a bike.  This is the part that shook you
when you were scared, and this one whispered
dutifully to your heart: now beat, now beat, now beat.

The worksheet on the lab bench encourages
probing you, naming each of your pink, fleshy
structures, but I can’t see past the human.
I am one brain looking at another.

Brain, tell me, who did you love?  What crevice
hides your lonesome secrets?  Let me murmur
to you everything I cannot share with living souls.

I look at you and I am (my brain is) New York City.
I look at you and my dentate gyrus swims in dopamine.
What happens when two brains fall in love?  What happens
when there’s one less clumsy body getting in the way?

After three too-short hours it’s time to put you away.
I gently lay you down in your chemical bath;
but for the rest of the day, walking from dreary
building to building, I can’t shake the image of you
and your brothers—swimming like eels
in a clear bucket of formaldehyde,
tucked into the darkest corner of the anatomy closet,
waiting, untouched for another time.

— Chandler Batchelor

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