In New Jersey, medical students
forbidden from studying cadavers
use bone chisels to pry the hinges
from the morgue doors. You show me
a film of a dog's severed head––
It's Russian you say, as though
that explains the apparatus
siphoning blood through its host.
Nothing tragic about these days
spent invading the living, the dead,
the students opening men like
china cabinets, reverence, care,
setting the table with our contents.
The dog licks its muzzle, calm
as we are, watching it track
a flashlight, turn its bloodied ears
toward voices. This is where
it started, you say. Now
that machine keeps organs alive.
Somewhere, a fist of red muscle
beats in a clear box before transplant,
a lung breathes deep without ribs
to confine it. When finished,
the students replace the hinges and,
inside, the bifurcated seams that split
their subjects are sewn shut,
not a stitch out of place.