A plume from the electrocautery disperses its cancerous fragrance as
incense on the altar
of our achievement.
A blue wall of crisp, disposable cloth separates
me from the high priest of the operating
She whose lot it is to offer incense by carving the flesh
of the willing.
Their screams used to pierce the silent hallways that took them far away
from the wards,
long before this particular incense first blossomed from a motionless body.
Progress gleams and reassures the initiates.
I keep them still, comfortable,
noiseless, and they rest
strapped to the soft-enough altar.
Now we hold a silent center stage.
The victims don’t even bleat.
We cut and burn in our sterile sanctuaries
That, in truth, aren’t quiet at all;
They pulse with music, our celebration pushing doubts
Down and out of mind.