Gary L. McDowell

Though the body is open to contemplation.
We have no evidence to tell us which angle.

Within this body opened presently.

The walls wonder where the light
will come from

when there are no windows.

There is always some unrest
in the bellies of the living.

Or the shadow of her half-open mouth.

It is unwhole,

the body's lack of strange sounds
as it lurches to rest—

but when it sleeps, when it sleeps
and the eyes close,

all everything sounds off—

what's unwhole then is noise.

How soon night enfolds her.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult

to burn a human body to ash.

We believe we can remember:

the ancient culture that thought
telling a lie shrunk their heads,
hence the term small-minded.

Through bouts of sleeplessness, the miracle
of plants.

The level blackness of the lawn
turning under the moon.

The backbones of birds outside the window,      
their skin tightened like glue—

thus, a fine turn of phrase.







A note on "Hysterectomy": They say reading is an impetus. W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn. Hospital bills. Eliot Weinberger's An Elemental Thing. Bedridden days and nights. George Oppen's Selected. The pine tree outside the bedroom window. Cardinals. Peter Gizzi. Everything. They say reading is an impetus.