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Lunch Conversation: Cadaver Parts; November Carnage by Jan Ball

Lunch Conversation: Cadaver Parts

Between forkfuls of fresh catfish,

Ted shares how his dentist built up

his jaw with ground cadaver bones

before inserting a dental implant.

Joanne gives us more details of cadaver use,

that a wave hit her at a certain angle

their first day of vacation in Cabo San Lucas

and sliced the tendons behind her left knee

so that she had to have her torn tendons

replaced with some from a cadaver.

Meanwhile, I dissect my catfish, separate

the flesh and skin from bones then dip

the rescued flesh in remoulade sauce.

With the fish en route to my mouth,

I think how glad I am that in my will

I’ve donated my body to science

so my spirit may one day hear

my body parts discussed at lunch.

November Carnage

Upstairs, Don vacuums the carnage:

dead insects we acquire on our farm

because of its proximity to the Spoon River,

our manager has explained.

Fly, wasp and beetle corpses lay face-up

under the Persian carpets asphyxiated

by the exterminator, some, with legs

in the air like yoga positions, lay

across the billiard table cover,

others squat with black bodies as prominent

as blood stains on the white-tiled bathroom floor.

The pervasive orange-pungent odor

of the vacuum-squashed beetles wafts

down the stairway as well as

the high-pitched machine whine

to where I sip Earl Grey tea

with honey and milk in the sunroom.

The milk has a Central Illinois taste

distinct from the Wisconsin cow output

we usually drink in Chicago.

Outside the casement windows, I observe

the hunter’s white pick-up parked at the bottom

of the cornfield like a camouflaged hearse

in the unexpected snow, ready to haul

their game, an eviscerated white-tailed deer,

to the local butcher who will grind it

into sausage and venison salami.


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