M. 81. cardiac arrest.

This summer semester I’m fortunate to be able to dive further into inquiry into the structure and function of the human form as a student in Advanced Musculoskeletal Anatomy, a graduate cadaveric dissection course led by Dr. Laura Boucher in the OSU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. It’s an immense, intense, and paradoxically pragmatic experience. It’s formal. It’s messy. It’s business. It’s personal. It’s someone else. It’s you. It’s everyone you’ll ever know. Here’s a trace of processing outside of origins, attachments, and innervations:

Male. 81. Cardiac Arrest.

That’s the extent of information I have about my Teacher.

And yet.

A paradox of vulnerability and strength. 

An imposing, formerly vibrant figure lies still, exposed, bare, on a table.

Skin. Protective Integument. Repository. Place of traces. Of dirt, of sweat, of effort evaporating from the inner world to the outer. Of scars from the outer world reaching in.

Gossamer shield. The scalpel slices.

There is a matter-of-factness to the logistics of how we deal with bodies After.

The metal table covering, two interlocking angled lids, resembles a coffin-sized catering chafer.

Plastic wrappings.

White tablecloth and cellophane.  Saran wrap preserving leftovers.

A lined garbage pail at the head of the table collects pieces of person, tissue cleaned away. A PVC pipe collects fluid drained from the table into a metal pail. Jack and Jill fetch the pail and pour it through a plastic funnel into a blue plastic barrel at the end of each day.

I know his great saphenous vein, as it travels into the femoral vein.  I know his lesser saphenous too. I watch them wind and play and pour into the next.

I know the masses of yellow tissue that bubble underneath the skin and over muscle.

Adipose in repose.

Melting fat over muscle has a technique, the same as greasing your baking pan. Simply hold a wad of paper towel over the fat deposit and move circularly, side to side, up and down, with pressure, creating heat. Friction liquifies the warm yellow solid and spreads it.

White fascial webs contain and connect, holding on even though the ( what is the word ) has gone. Even though the need has gone. As if it’s waiting for us, for me, to find it, follow it, break it, and release it. It was waiting to teach me. It, they, him. Every cell. Every fiber.

When do cells die? When does cellular memory die? Does it?

To teach me about interdigitation. About articulation. About connection. About convergence. Divergence. Systems. Difference, sameness, function, form.

Vessels and fluids in the creature vessel.


Fibrous strands of

“the soft animal of your body.”


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