The Visible Man

displays his arteries and veins to me
like a road map. I trace the tangled route
to the heart, encased in plastic, every
piece of him defined, each contour scaled
down to size, a man in miniature.

There among memento mori, black jet
dripping like tears, a buffalo’s head, a jungle
of taxidermy, he was still in his original box:
The wonders of the human body revealed!
complete with instructions for assembly,
an introduction to anatomy. I would
take him home, build him from scratch.

It was painstaking work, painting each artery,
hooking him up like a Christmas tree;
as he began to take shape, I could almost
sense the things he lacked: the smooth
skin covering hard muscle, a face made up
of all the faces I have loved, the eyes clear,
untroubled. I wanted to understand

everything: the flow of blood and semen,
the beat of the pulse, why each man
I have known snapped shut eventually
when faced with the prospect of love,
of a woman right in front of him
who wouldn’t take no. And so I must be
content with this model of a man, a training kit,

until I understand what makes me tick,
until I can open the door to my heart,
the way I can lift his breastplate up,
and watch myself in motion, the same
veins and arteries, the same blood.

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