I trailed my dad downstairs into the morgue.
The man whose leg he had them save for us
was watching cartoons on the second floor.
Above the knee, they’d sliced it, flush –
the bone dull white, the meat all burgundy.
Poised in my fingers like a fine paintbrush,
the lightweight knife he used in surgery
flashed with singular purpose. A faint hush
fell as I traced a long line down the calf.
The skin divided smooth as cellophane.
When he nodded me on, I stepped away
to breathe, behind a pillar, and he laughed,
Fresh air? gently taking his scalpel back –
his fingertips dry, his cuticles cracked.
Eric Berlin received an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University, an MFA in sculpture from NY Academy of Art, and a BA in English from Harvard. With poems in Madison Review, Naugatuck River Review, Confrontations, Enizagam, and Milkweed Editions’ Outsiders, he was awarded a poetry residency at Vermont Studio Center.