Anatomy Lesson
by Megan Webster

    Savoring the last mouthful of chicken soup,
    I switch on the news channel

    and find Ethiopian mothers blowing across the desert
    in search of feeding centers,
    their feet lost in dust, babies pouched in shawls,
    children strung to one hand,
    a bundled donkey roped to the other.

    Inside one center, a mother holds up the frame of her son--
    holds him as if she were an anatomy teacher.

    I identify the twelve bowed ribs,
    humerus dangling from the radius,
    tibia below the long femur,
    pelvic ridge.

    I see the mandible part from the maxilla,
    the eyes retreat into their sockets.

    I want the world to see, she cries--

    then slowly lays her son on a rag.
    Her daughter lies beneath a mound of powdered earth outside.
    She waits.

    I switch off the TV--
    spit out the soup.

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