A few nights ago I recalled a memory from middle and high school (7-12th grade). The advanced placement biology class dissected cats each year, and after finishing their autopsies, would weave through the hallways with the cats in their metal pans, singing Amazing Grace. It happened every year–all six years I attended. Rumor is that a parent complained and that it doesn’t happen anymore. So I attempted to capture the memory in a poem.

grace: cathedral high school’s annual
advanced placement biology cat dissection

the sour of formaldehyde trailed
from your wet bengal tails
dripping to the granite floors.

your tortoiseshell
torn through with a shallow scalpel
two seniors to a group
clumsily locating your lungs
and subdividing your uterus to find
two kittens sleeping
like baoding balls.

can you hear it?
the swish of the latex lab coats.
you’re deflated in flat metal pans
but surely you must hear it.

heavy oak doors propped
with students gathering at the opening.
we sing, too.
how sweet the sound.

Rupp at the lead with
an open hymnal.
he looks over the arch of his glasses
at his parade.

we’re saying a prayer for you.

not asking for anything.
you were an overpopulation, and
no one wanted you alive.

they can only
intone your form, manner, and motion.
they can only
chant thanks that your
corpse taught them the puzzle of
our insides.

you still look as though,
if you slid from the basin,
that you would land
on all four feet.

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