Some of The National Museum of Health and Medicine's most
unsettling stuff is . . . amputated body parts from soldiers
wounded during the Civil War.
Think how one soldier, on every anniversary
of his amputation, brought blood red tulips
to his leg and sat by the glass case,
both hands on one knee,
his thoughts electrifying the space
between him and what he can not quite give up
hanging in that interval, like the shadow
between a maple and the earth it loves.
I've noticed the way a porch
inclines from its house,
to see how far it can go without permission,
but hoping to hang on for now
of two minds about wanting to get away.
It's like coloring outside the lines,
like testing deep water beyond the buoy,
like venturing into outer space,
daring to edge farther and farther
off the base in schoolyard games.
It's practice, isn't it? A way of thinking
about the day that the body parts,
the soul flies up to heaven.