The Anatomy Lesson

Thorax sounds military, or straight
out of Valhalla, the yawing lodge
of the war dead held up by broad
parentheses of ribs, elastic
arches of bone. The upper sternum,
manubrium, like an element
on the periodic table, can
join in old age to the gladiolus,
misleading flower. Ribs are true or
false according to their oblique and
offset angle, though they all have heads
and necks, and knobbed tuberosity.

Floating ribs point down like internal
fangs; eleventh and twelfth, they are not
visible in The Anatomy
Lesson of Dr. Deijman
, though
the cavity yawns and René Descartes
peers in to seek the seat of the soul.
Cogito. Valkyries bear only half
the dead to Valhalla; Freya takes
the rest to fight a never-ending
battle for life, childbearing, love. No
one saw my mother wounded in that

war. Think of a rib, jarred and shattered
thin and sharp, a snapped-off shard to stab
the lung. Think of dying because no
one can find a cut or bruise. Think
the ways we are hit on the inside.
What within us is true, according
to what angle? Cogitate on proof
that is not visible, like the soul.
Ergo my mother serves Freya from
a wide wooden bowl shaped like the shield
I could not carry her on. Sum.

Tanis MacDonald