Anesthesiologist for a Cadaver

December 1, 2004

poetry Anesthesiologist for a Cadaver

Psychiatric Times

December 2004

Vol. XXI

Issue 14

He stands like a farmer with hired hands
ready to begin the harvest:
two blue eyes and a heart,
lungs he bellows to hold breath's fire,
the smooth liver shining like a prize
on a butcher's tray, dirt brown kidneys
that turn blood into gold; branches for grafting,
Winesap to Smokehouse, Red Roman to Empire.
They toil in a sterile field, pack produce on ice
fast as death's freedom allows.

When they've tilled the grit worth saving,
he turns off the air, savors the last warm breeze
leaving summer, pulls out the irrigation,
piles tools for cleaning,
chatter rising like October crows,
a carcass emptied of all desire.
He notices the ache in his legs,
hot breath behind the mask, and rests
a gloved hand on someone's shoulder
just long enough to stop his shaking.

Dr. Berlin is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Berlin's book How JFK Killed My Father won the Pearl Poetry Prize 2002 and was published by Pearl Editions in September 2003.