Sue Blaustein: “Microscopy”

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Microscopy

What’s under our skins?

                Show me –
through an illustrated cut-out,
                an incision
or window – what lies
                under soft
and folded flesh.

                What’s in there?
Zoom in, then in once more
                to see. Cell structures
revealed by swirls stained
                purple. Vacuoles,

membranes – pores
                endowed
with intelligence! Chemical
                locks, chemical
keys – receptors.
                Shapes.

What’s under our skins?

(My mother knew – from
autopsies and slides).

Away from the flaws
                and heat,
the embarrassments
                of flesh –

                attentive
and schooled
in the wonders
of magnification,

my mother
in her working days
spent hours
at the microscope.
What’s under our skins –
                our skulls?

The more you magnify,
                the closer in –
cellular, molecular,
atomic, sub-atomic ­-
everything starts
to look strangely the same.

Is that a womb, or a brain?

Fundamental
and fundamental.
                Shapes.
Coils of DNA, twitchy
                in a nucleus –

the secret codes and keys
accounting for the ways
                my mother and I
are alike and unalike.

                My mother –
who pored over
The Double Helix
when it first came out –
who could write lines
in a trip journal like:
our capable guide endlessly
                over-informed us.

                I stay informed.
I read about the frontiers of biology –

                Virus,
prion, shred
of protein.
Electron sharing and bonds
creeping along the boundaries
                between
living and non-living –
                things known,
and not yet known
                in her time,
                her prime.
                On that last trip
for which she kept a journal,
(she’d been a widow for more
than a decade by then)
she woke thinking she’d slept
all night and it was breakfast.

                It wasn’t.
It was dinner. Some other
travelers set her straight
                and she wrote:

I was informed that I was dis-oriented.

                Shapes and
chemicals create
                relationships.
Tastes and tics, a way
of making
                sentences.
A preferred way
to spend your days.
Until reaching a point
at which you,
                or yours (on
your behalf) say:
                This isn’t
what I’d call living…

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About the Author: Sue Blaustein is the author of “In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector”. Her information can be found at www.sueblaustein.com. Recently she contributed a poem to a “The Subtle Forces” podcast episode and was interviewed on the “Blue Collar Gospel Hour”. A retiree, she blogs for Milwaukee’s  Ex Fabula, serves as an interviewer/writer for the “My Life My Story” program at the Zablocki VA Medical Center, and chases insects at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.

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Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston “Students in a science class using microscopes, Western High School, Washington, D.C.” (1899) The Library of Congress

Holly Day: “Scales and Cataracts”

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About the Author: Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been an instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her writing has recently appeared in , and Hubbub, GrainThird Wednesday, and her newest books are (Anaphora Literary Press)The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, (Weasel Press), (Shanti Arts), and (Wiley). Book of Beasts Bound in Ice Music Composition for Dummies

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Image Credit: Angelika Hoerle “Female Bust” (1920) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Rocío Iglesias: “the Human Body is a Nightmare”

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About the Author: Rocío Iglesias is a queer Cuban-American poet and multidisciplinary artist with a law degree. Her work has appeared in various print and electronic publications and can most recently be found in Rejection Letters Lit Mag, Tilted House, and “Firmament” from Sublunary Editions. She divides her time between Miami and Minneapolis.

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Image Credit: Hilma af Klint “The Large Figure Paintings, No. 5 Group 3” (1907) Public Domain.