Three med students begin the semester
by covering my face
with cloth. It reminds me of my mother
lowering my veil
on my wedding day. They are nervous
and roll my nakedness over. I can’t feel
the scalpel slice into my back, a hole
for scissors to cut my skin
the way I would cut fabric
to sew shirts for my husband.
They turn me back
over. A scalpel caresses
between my sagging breasts, and traces
down to a place my husband would rest
his hot and tired forehead.
I want to tell them how I spilled
boiling water on my right leg.
That’s why it’s scarred.
One student turns my hand
over and carves my skin
off like a glove. Another grabs my forearm
as if to ask me for a dance. He slivers
the scissors down to pull the skin and fat aside.
I remember holding onto my husband with these arms.
They make an incision below my belly button,
and I’m afraid
of what they won’t find. No uterus. No fallopian tubes.
No matching ovaries.
My husband used to love me
between these legs,
when this organ was holy.
But after five miscarriages,
his affection quieted like a crowd after Sunday mass.
The students borrow another body
to study a uterus intact, just
like my husband did.
come back to me.
My surgeons-in-training show me off
to other colleagues, and they discuss the hysterectomy,
the craftsmanship found in the coarse scar tissue.
It is the first time someone
All the attention
I wanted, I receive
on this stainless steel bed.