HomeArchiveAboutMastheadJoin POW ListserveDonateBlank page
Anne Caston



When Hal Pingle was thirty minutes late
I walked the long, windowed wall
along the back of the Anatomy Lab
and passed myself back and forth
through the dull midwinter afternoon light
watching how the dust motes
scattered then closed again behind.

Outside the snow had begun;
the courtyard was a muffle of voices.
In the unlit center of the room, a wheeled
gurney: a cadaver, covered with clear plastic.
Even from a distance I could make out the blue-grey
shape of a man, the dark massed areas of hair
along his upper chest and groin, the long incision
where he'd been opened at the morgue.
I didn't want the first nude man I'd see to be dead.
I didn't want to empty him out alone,
piece by piece, his entrails, his heart.
What I wanted was for my friend to arrive,
to take up the instruments and begin the excisions,
the litany or organs.  I would label and bag.
Then together we'd examine the corridors leading
to and from the faulty heart, make precise notes:
where the blood pooled in his body,
what it drained away from.
                                        And so not to look
at the gurney, I studied the instruments: steel calipers,
thin cannulas, the razor-bright edge of scalpels.
How sharp?  I wondered even as the fat pad
of my left thumb opened and blood seeped out.
At the pale blue door labeled Supply in the back of the room,
I put out my good hand and turned the handle.
I heard the latch click.  I heard the hinge complain.
But I was watching my thumb separate
and swell purple like a seam on a plum.
When I did look up, I was inside.
The closet lifted into long shelves
where fetuses, far as the eye could see,
swam in jars, yellowed, curled in on themselves.
The door slammed shut behind me.
I stood there in the crypt-like dark and felt-- what?
Felt the silence entering my ear?  Felt a coordior opening in me?
A coordior like knowing, or the edge of knowing?
Inside me, the seed of the tree of knowledge
took root and began a furious blooming.
I heard him come in.  Heard him call my name.
Heard him mutter to himself; heard him leave again.
I heard a small noise that sounded like mice.
The sleeve of my labcoat was sticky.  I turned in the dark.
I found the handle and opened the door.
I stepped out; I didn't look back.
I closed the blinds and locked the outer door; I turned off
all the lights but one.
                                Then I went to the gurney
and pulled the covering off the man.  I looked
at him, at all of him.  Nothing to distinguish him:
no moles, tattoos, no birthmarks or scars.
Only the incision running from sternum to pubic thicket.
I couldn't tell clearly where the wound ended
and the body began.  I ran the seam of my thumb
along the long opened seam on the man.
"Here is where we meet," I told him,
"Here is where we are the same."
                     -from Flying Out with the Wounded



Kim Addonizio 03-14-08


Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07


Alice Anderson 11-16-08


Renee Ashley 04-10-2010


Christianne Balk 07-27-07


Brian Barker 07-07-07


Polina Barskova 09-13-2010


Bruce Beasley 11-22-08


Nicky Beer 09-06-2010


Nicky Beer 08-22-08


Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09


Ciaran Berry 01-25-09


Linda Bierds 08-31-07


Kristin Bock 08-17-09


Bruce Bond 02-18-2012


John Bradley 03-12-2012


Brian Brodeur 03-29-09


Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010 


Sophie Cabot Black 03-26-2012


Anne Caston 09-24-09


Anne Caston 02-27-2011


Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08


Nicole Cooley 04-05-09


Stephen Cramer 02-14-2011


Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08


Steve Davenport 03-29-2010


Cortney Davis 05-03-09


Todd Davis 11-01-2010


James Dickey 03-12-2012


Stephen Dobyns 02-26-2012


Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08


Karen Donovan 04-15-07


Mark Doty 04-11-08


Stephen Dunn 11-09-02010


Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010


Lynnell Edwards 11-22-2010


B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09


Elyse Fenton 04-25-2011


Nick Flynn 01-28-2012


Nick Flynn 10-04-2010


Rachel Contreni Flynn 04-10-2011


Carolyn Forche 09-21-07


Carrie Fountain 03-21-2011


James Galvin 02-23-07


Margaret Gibson 01-24-10


Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08


Dana Gioia 08-23-2010


Eugene Gloria 09-20-08


Louise Gluck 03-17-2010


Kevin Goodan 08-29-08


Matthew Graham 11-28-2010


Robert Grunst 11-16-07


Bruce Guernsey 9-13-2011


Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07


John Haines 11-01-2011


Donald Hall 02-10-07


Sarah Hannah 11-25-2011


C. G. Hanzlicek 04-23-2012


Jeff Hardin 08-10-07


Elizabeth Haukaas 09-13-2011


Brooks Haxton 03-08-10


Seamus Heaney 09-11-09


Jamey Hecht 12-05-2010


Bob Hicok 10-25-2011



Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09


Lynda Hull 05-20-07


Henry Israeli 01-23-2011


Major Jackson 05-02-2010


Mark Jarman 10-19-08


Rodney Jones 10-26-09


Barbara Jordan 02-02-09


Ilya Kaminsky 11-18-2011


Daniel Khalastchi 8-30-2011


Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08


Jane Kenyon 04-01-07


Suji Kwock Kim 11-09-2011

 James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07


Galway Kinnell 11-09-07


Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07


Phil Levine 06-03-07


Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08


Larry Levis 04-04-08


Larry Levis 02-08-2010


Lisa Lewis 02-11-2012


Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08


Corey Marks 10-03-07


Adrian Matejka 04-18-08


Davis McCombs 01-18-08


Jeffrey McDaniel 10-08-2011


Michael McGriff 02-22-09


Jay Meek 01-16-2010


Anne Michaels 01-18-09


Nils Michals 02-29-08


Keith Montesano 12-12-2010


Malena Morling 05-12-08


Simone Muench 02-08-08


Sharon Olds 02-22-07


Sharon Olds 10-19-07


Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010


Eric Pankey 09-07-07


Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07


Ed Pavlic 09-28-07


Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010


Lucia Perillo 12-04-09


Catherine Pierce 04-18-2011


Jon Pineda 04-09-2012


Donald Platt 02-15-08


Joshua Poteat 03-13-2011


Joshua Poteat 11-3-09


Wyatt Prunty 02-20-2011


Dean Rader 03-07-2011


Amy Randolph 03-01-09


Robert Randolph 12-12-09


Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010


Joshua Robbins 11-16-2010


David Roderick 12-07-07


Bobby C. Rogers 02-04-2012


Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

 Steve Scafidi 10-09-09


Jim Schley 10-19-09


Tim Seibles 10-08-07


David Shumate 10-26-08


Dave Smith 04-10-09 


Katherine Soniat 01-21-2012


Katherine Soniat 11-30-07


Gary Soto 03-23-07


Mark Sullivan 08-28-09


Mathias Svalina 04-02-2012

Frank Stanford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010


Mark Svenvold 03-23-09


Robert Thomas 05-03-2011


Brian Turner 05-13-07


Joshua Vinzant 01-30-2011


Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07


Connie Voisine 10-1-2011


Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07


David Wevill 03-27-2011


C.K. Williams 05-25-07


Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07


Charles Wright 01-27-07


Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010


Robert Wrigley 08-17-07


Robert Wrigley 04-09-07


Robert Wrigley 02-03-07