The Muscles on the Muscle Man
Think of them as flaming sarcomeres, of wings,
As anything but meat spilled in an abattoir,
Think of them as freed from gravity, from age
From death, from all the ailments angels fear
And run from, from adrenal dystrophy and polio
From myasthenia, from central core disease
From all and anything that stops us on our way,
These mighty agents of movement unspooled,
Their severed tendons hanging like bandages,
Like scarves in the wind or ribbons won
In a race long ago ended, the motors of the body
Gigantic placed in a landscape by Leonardo,
The head turned away in grief at so many secrets
Revealed, hung by a pulley hung from a beam.
Michael Salcman is a retired physician and teacher of art history. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He is a child of the Holocaust and a survivor of polio. His poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. His books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises), Poetry in Medicine, a widely used anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil (2020) won the inaugural Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize. Many of the poems in his published collections are ekphrastic in nature (especially in The Clock made of Confetti).
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