Poetry by Paul Hamill: The Students of Dissection Praise the Donors of Bodies
We have become more intimate with you
Than lovers, had more mastery of your limbs
Than childhood taught you. Once you looked inside
Your spirit, offered your heart to someone dear.
Now you have let us strangers heft that heart
And open up your bony house of sighs.
No patient will be patient at our probes
As you were! May your silence be the mirror
That tells us that the living are unopened,
With pains and hopes like ours, which flow and pulse.
May your serenity beneath our touch
Foretell the peace of healing we would bring.
We pledge the sacred anonymity
That sees the ill or health of friend or foe
With the cool eye that sketched your lungs, your spleen.
Like the Samaritan, we will dismount
To help without prejudgment, unembarrassed,
Not weighing who is worthy, as you have not.
“The rising juniors in physical therapy learn human anatomy by human dissection at the Rochester campus. After their course, they have a ceremony of silent thanks for those whose bodies they have been allowed to explore, and in some years have planted a tree.” —Paul Hamill
Former IC associate provost Paul Hamill is Ithaca College’s director of academic funding and special programs, and the current Tompkins County poet laureate. His published works include narratives, meditations, monologues, and poetry collections. He is the parent of Stephen Hamill ’98 and Katie Hamill ’05 and stepparent of Christopher Colongeli ’03. In this issue he has another poem, "Snow Sermon."