Self-Portrait as Cadaver
He must have spent time outside
the husky boy will say, pre-med upstate.
Those squintlines fanning from the eyes,
the stubby hands. He must have worked
at something. Cool light runs
shadowless along gray skin
and down the stainless drains.
The girl, her first Anatomy, may spot the right foot
turned out farther than the left: no dancer,
or note the scar lashed white along his wrist,
not knowing how it saved him.
Nice hair, she'll think, important
for a short guy, though death dusts
its luster. Then she'll see
her own hand, or her mother's,
brushing back her brother's curls.
Of the lips, thin, particular,
scant evidence their words were soft
or cruel. But if along her skin
still plays the breeze of summer nights
before she left Poughkeepsie,
on her mouth
the graze of another
surrendering its vowels,
she may look upon his face, his ear,
and for a moment hear a voice
almost as he did
when someone breathed his name.
GA O'Connell grew up outside Chicago, holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His honors include the Pablo Neruda Award in Poetry, Atlanta Review's International Grand Prize, Bellingham Review's 49th Parallel Award, an Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council, and many Pushcart Prize nominations. He has been poet-in-residence at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago's Ox Bow Colony, and The Ragdale Foundation. Author of Getting the Range, which won the Soundpost Prize, and The Force of Ice, he has recent poems in Mississippi Review Prize Stories and Poems of the Year, The Paterson Literary Review, Zone 3, The Comstock Review, and Southern Poetry Review. He has taught creative writing and literature at Cornell College, the University of Nebraska at Omahas Writer's Workshop, Creighton University, and Hamilton College. He is presently poet-in-residence and visiting professor of English at Qiqihar University in Heilongjiang, China, where he is also engaged with his next collection, The Six Yellows of Wheat..
Copyright © GA O'Connell.