A last request


I read recently that certain
cells go on without us, that
30 minutes postmortem,
or 48 hours, or 96,
genes transcript,
activity commences,
continues, increases.

Stem cells repair themselves for days. Weeks.

All this time I thought it enough
to run the living numbers:
three years since the skin
you last touched regenerated,
two and a half since
the red blood you heated
circulated these vessels
(also wholly recreated).

Certain white bloods cells rose
in your presence; others yielded.
Some were gone days after
you left; many linger yet.
Immunity is complicated.

The liver that shared our last drink expired two years ago.

Forty percent of my heart is new,
the best 40 percent, my brain
wants to say, my brain
that’s just the same.

Brains demand change yet
struggle to remake themselves.
Then grow bitter thinking
their magnificence mocked
by starfish who
even without brains
can rebuild essentials.

Still I thought I would make it,
in your long absence become
a completely new person before
I died, every cell sweetly
ignorant of you, virgins of
my perfectly refashioned heart.

Now this.

If they ask, then, decline
to identify the body.
No telling what trouble
I may yet get into, these blind
and busy remainders who
in last twilight still may find
a way to remember you.




  1. Love how you use your scientific knowledge to mingle it with very beautiful poetry: The lingering of some cells associated with the memories of a person who is no longer there… Simply beautiful. Loved it!


    1. Thanks so much. It was intriguing to write a piece that implicates both brain and heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. such sweet memories
    of body parts
    gone by 🙂


    1. … or, not quite gone by. 🙂


      1. yes, Cate!
        they’re worthy
        of attention 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing like literary science for a Monday morning – this was great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michelle!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: