The First Complete Dissection of the Human Cerebrospinal Nervous System, Or:
Did Harriet Cole Foresee That Death Would Not End
the Ways the World Would Ravish the Temple of Her?
With no evidence that the scrubwoman bequeathed her body to him,
questions remain how Dr. Weaver procured Harriet Cole's cadaver.
Rufus B. Weaver laid Harriet out
on a bed of cold steel, smoothed back
her hair, then took up hammer and chisel,
chipped away her stubborn skull,
careful to preserve the brown eyes
still attached to their optic nerves,
slivered away brown flesh, red muscle,
tendon, bone, brandished a fine needle
to tease each nerve from the plaited
spinal cord that once bent over buckets
and brooms in the good doctor’s lab,
shrouded each ghostly thread of her
in damp winding cloths until at last
the unseen network of Harriet’s aliveness--
fully flayed—could be sheathed
in white lead paint, splayed like the roots
of a tree ripped from soil, then tacked
to a blackboard, pin by pin by pin.
As students flit before Harriet’s lidless eyes
outside the busy college bookstore, one pauses
to survey the useless art, the fringed hobgoblin
with looped fingers and toes, tree-like whiskers,
cartoon eyeballs, glockenspiel ribs, trails
of white tears—then she hurries on, pondering
the pastor’s reading last Sunday, the one where
Ezekiel breathes life into the long-dead Israelites,
a vast army rising from the Valley of Dry Bones.
B. Fulton Jennes
Learn more about this story, here.
The Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, Connecticut, B. Fulton Jennes serves as poet-in-residence for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Her poems have or will appear in The Comstock Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Night Heron Barks, Connecticut River Journal, ArtAscent, Tar River Poetry, Stone Canoe, Naugatuck River Journal, Frost Meadow Review, and other publications, and her poem “Lessons of a Cruel Tide” was awarded first place in the Writer’s Digest Annual Competition in the rhyming poetry category. Jennes’s chapbook, Blinded Birds, will be published by Finishing Line Press in the fall of 2021. She lives in the wooded ridges of a small Connecticut town.
The Ekphrastic Review
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