Cadaver Lab

by Eric Tran

Eric Tran

I figured it’d be months without laughter.
Understandably. On pelvic dissection day
my friend Amelia whispers I’m sorry,

girlfriend before starting the saw.
Another friend unknowingly holds

his cadaver’s hand during the biggest
incisions. Classmates I don’t even like
point out veins and nerves to spare me

hours of inhaling fat and fascia. Then
one group finds a penis pump and we decide

yes he meant it as a surprise and the boys
fist bump his cold hands. Another group
shares their cadaver’s perfect pink polish,

another has fresh, unwrinkled ink
across her chest. Like tiny treasures

for us. Of course no one donates their body
without a sense of humor. Of course the body
is a gift. We admit on dissection days

we all leave hungry, specifically for chicken.
I booked my calendar with hook-ups

as if to practice how the blood flows
while it can. One boy I brought home
had a scar down his sternum, a souvenir

of a heart condition. He apologized
years after the incision healed, like the scar

didn’t pucker like lips. I imagined the lights
baring on him, how so many lucky
hands got to press against his skin.

Last updated September 20, 2022