Academic journal article TriQuarterly

His Father's Cadaver

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

His Father's Cadaver

Article excerpt

The old man had always wanted to end up there, on the chrome table, the Medical School Dissection Room on that island in the North Atlantic his heaven. So his only child signed the papers - son, M.D. He knew that the students would start with a butterfly incision, cutting the body down the center, and would lift the skin of the chest, and of the abdomen, up and to the sides. He had heard the high neutral scream of the bone-saw, he knew they would pry back the ribs to get at the heart. He knew the pattern they followed, he had done it himself - chest, abdomen, head, hands, feet. They would stand there, the medical students, day after day, around his father, one doing a knee, one the bowels, the scalp, the eye, the face. This is what his father had wanted, to throw himself bodily into the hospital like a roe-fish thrown back, to enter his students directly, as knowledge - so the wreckage could be seen as good, even his chest, which might look gnawed, his jaws shining through as they removed his lips even the pool of slurry like the fish factory - and every week his son had some idea where they might be, as those at home will chart the route of Arctic explorers, the pins on the map moving in through the cold toward the center. …

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