I SHIVERED, unused to being met
by rows and rows of zipped black bags,
a crowded waiting room of unsuspecting patients
finished with their waiting.
The metal of the scalpel
was cold against my fingertips.
I took a breath, and finding it hard and unrelenting,
threw my weight against my hands;
I was unsurprised by the snap,
the sound of metal against bone,
the scent of formalin
wafted up to greet me, stinging my eyes.
His hands were worn, fingers blackened
with age and use and his palms were
thick, as if they had once held more
than a day’s worth of hardship,
sores weeping and skin burning in the
scorching heat of summer.
“Save lives,” they said.
“Breathe life,” they said.
I pulled off my gloves,
wiped the sweat off my brow
and thought
“Honor life,” instead.

Paula Danika Binsol


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