2 Poems

Alyse Bensel

The Body is a Fragile Experiment

I replace myself in days. Cells summon my breath.
A neighbor assures me not to worry when the dog eats
rabbit flesh flattened on the street. Uncooked bones
are not sharp enough to hurt, turn an animal inside out.

As a child I understood second chances. An hourglass
can be turned again and again. Anoles drop their tails.
A starfish regenerates its soft lethal limbs. How easy
a body destroys and is destroyed. How I pinched an ant

between my fingers. How before the ant died it made
me bleed. I do harm and do not expect the same, so I know
why sunsets are beautiful. If contained those gases
can suffocate a lab rat as it thrashes in its plastic cage.

Machine Hymn

The animal can be taken apart, Descartes says,
just like a machine. The animal is never clean

enough, soulless and heartless, with a heart
that, upon dissection, has four chambers,

an aortic valve. The cats are bleeding out
embalming fluid. I observe plucked tendon,

attached muscle meant to kick and kick. Survival
instinct distilled to a classroom lesson: remember

the other, breathe like an organ bellows that guides
the congregation to prayer on days of rest.

Animals lie on cold metal tables beside
the instruction manual. Find the liver, be careful

not to puncture the dead with sharp instruments
that ring tuneless in their mechanical desires.