by Anders Carlson-Wee

For a couple of years I volunteered
at the prosthetics center in the south wing
of St. Mary's Memorial. Every Thursday
I pushed the lab equipment up against
the walls, mopped the floor, moved it back.
I was basically a janitor, but they called
me a Lab Assistant, trying to make it
sound important. All the patients who
came in were missing something. Usually
it was an arm or a leg. A clean loss.
A stub that still moved. The kind of thing
you would think of. But other times
it wasn't. This one guy had skin
where his nostrils should be. A fire maybe.
This girl was missing three fingers and part
of her palm. Probably an accident
with a handgun, but she was so young.
I would mop the floor and try to guess
what had happened to everyone. Watch
as they practiced walking across the room
with silicone toes. Listen carefully
as they dropped spoons on the clean floor
from experimental hands.

Last updated March 20, 2023