Now we begin to introduce
Mr. James Montgomery of Newton, Mass.,
to Mr. Tomas Krakowski of Houston, Tex.,
only Mr. Krakowski is dead.
He, at least, will have few objections
to the hand-over. If there are complications,
it will not be his finger that flips the bird
and wanders off — inchworming its way
down the hallway, past the pharmaceutical lockers,
with plans for tickling the night nurse —
but Montgomery’s mangled hand
that rejects their promotion.
Though the stitching will be expert,
the alignment of the bones against
their new partners perfect, the body wants
to be only itself. It will expel invaders,
send archers, their arrows alight.
Its will is still beyond us. To negotiate
the truce, we bring in the ancients:
writhing in their jar, a prescription
forever rewriting itself in saline.
They draw the bad blood out, make
the seam where man is stitched to man
more friendly, add a natural
Science is just magic
with more bar graphs.
Or magic was always science
with more chanting — I forget
how the PR department
likes us to say it now.
When the villagers thought us witches,
some of us liked to go out onto stony hillsides caked
in moonlight and chant for hours,
just to live up to their expectations.
Now in the long green halls,
I comfort pale bald children
with the contents of my pockets:
a lollypop, a stethoscope,
a shrunken human head.
Sometimes I make the mouth say
Darlings, you are not alone.