Poem in which a fourteen-year-old biology student dissects a cow’s heart

Look at the fat heart,
slack on the counter.

A butcher’s trash, red
and ferrous-smelling.

I have had to learn,
taking a scalpel,

to quell the tremble
starting in the lip

and fingers. I trim
its lipid crust, hard

and butter-yellow.
Swab the veins for clots.

Glide the fine blade clean
through bloodless muscle.

Severed precisely,
it opens into

valves and chambers,
atria, chordae –

delicate, exact
and systematic.

Funny how classmates
pale and flinch at this

who are always so
ready with the knives.

Alex Bell