for Cleopatra.

Adriano MollicaAdriano Mollica
University of Toronto
Class of 2019

the crevices in my hands could never course deep enough
to hold all the life that has moved between your synapses

and yet, in the basement labs of my medical school
I am holding every part of who you were

the culmination of billions of years of motion
resting motionless on these blue nitrile gloves

but what is equally difficult to believe is
how routine this all becomes

so I take this moment to imagine what experiences
pulsed under these fixed hills and valleys.

the early light you watched warm the eastern sky and
felt flood your bedroom with its young blue haze,
the crackle and smell of breakfast
seeping in under the door

the stories your father used to tell you
of constellations you knew nothing about,
how he’d outline those dancing starry creatures
and point out the ones that looked like serpents
until you could do it yourself

your first ice-cream, scraped knee
funeral, and high school party,
leaving home with promises to visit
after finding your own way
of tracing the night sky,

when much later in the company of your illness
you listened to the arteries in your neck
throb against your pillow

thinking of how damn fast it all moved
as the last trickles of western sun
were pushed from your hands
and into the dirt…

Then again, who am I to think about
what your life might have been like.

I'm just trying to learn the
arteries in the Circle of Willis,
or name these small grey lily pads
floating in ponds of white matter

Yet I can’t help but notice this
three pound mass
now feeling so much heavier…

What was the last of it like?
I can’t do anything but imagine

a swarm of
coloured scrubs

your body splayed
like a naked artichoke,

monitor lights and beeps
receding to silence,

perhaps a young medical student standing by
who, like me, was
trying to learn something new
with the weight of your universe
in their cupped hands.

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